Sunday, September 27, 2009

Baby Boomers - Turning Sixty Our Way

I was reading an article today about a doctor who treats quite a few patients from the Baby Boomer era - my era - those of us born between 1946 and 1964. He sees many of us for exercise/sports injuries as do many other doctors these days. He calls the syndrome "boomeritis." In fact, he even copyrighted the name. Boomeritis is an affliction of older people who think they can work out like younger people and believe they can hold off aging, according to this doctor, and who injure themselves as a result. The way he describes boomeritis, it sounds like we're just fantasizing and can't own up to the fact that we're middle aged and some of us are even seniors who shouldn't try to keep up! Middle aged? Didn't we remove that term from the dictionary? I'll be 59 in a few days and I don't ever remember becoming middle aged, nor did any of my friends.

Seriously though, many older athletes and weekend warriors (men and women) can injure themselves by overusing muscles and tendons that may not be as supple as they used to be. We do have to pay attention, but that doesn't mean we have to stop and drop into the easy chair.

None of us Baby Boomers really want to be called "seniors" either. My vision of a senior is more like what my grandparents were like when they were in their sixties and I was just a kid: soft, smiling creased faces, a little plump, aprons, stockings rolled around grandma's ankles, the house smelling like cigar smoke, ashtrays all around, calm but almost never doing anything outside other than gardening. I know. This is blatant stereotyping, but it's my personal picture of yesteryear. Of course, there were people over sixty who were very active back then - I just didn't know them and I suspect there weren't that many of them compared to today except in the farming industry.

Our parents' and their parents' generations just didn't know what we know today about exercise, nutrition, mental health. They didn't have the health care technology we do today. They just did what they thought they should - worked hard, supported their families, went to church every Sunday and tried to stay comfortable.

But I'll be 60 in another year which I believe is supposed to move me into seniordome and I'll still be riding my bike, going to the gym at oh dark hundred, dreaming of sculling and trying really hard to keep my bones from turning into spider webs and my arteries from clogging up like my sink. And yes, sometimes I have injuries ....just like my twentysomething peers do. Big deal. I am paying attention, doctor.

I wear cutoffs and sandals in the summer and jeans and western boots in the winter and unless I have to meet some head of state, I will never put stockings on again the rest of my life. I also refuse to wear polyester. Most of my friends have similar philosophies.

So we are a very different generation than our parents or grandparents coming into our sixties. I'm happy to be who I am at this age and delighted to be doing what I'm doing. I'm still working full time which I didn't expect to be thirty years ago, but things change. I make way more than my dad did and I have a pension which my kids will not.

I watched my mother die of breast cancer and my dad die of heart disease in their sixties. They didn't know what steps they could have taken to reduce their risk. I have no excuse.

So I'm out there exercising more and living differently than I did in my twenties. I'm no doubt in better shape with the exception of a little arthritis. I'm not kidding myself that I'm never going to age - I am aging. But it is damn well going to be my way (to the best of my ability)!

They have a centenarian luncheon in my town for everyone over 100. My plan is not only to be alive for it, but to walk in under my own power and know that I just turned 100!! If that's Boomeritis, well, I have the affliction. Anybody want to join me?


  1. Yup I wanna come too!! I wanna be slim again - am working on that and healthy..mind and body!! We will go arm and arm hon!!
    You were not stereotyping - at least not our experience. That was totally what Grammy was like!! Kinda squishy!!In a good way..but I don't want to be squishy at 60!! OR now for that matter!!
    I walk - alot. Now we have a car we can get out to the woods and hike more - I looove that. I wear jeans and tie dye. I wear what I want and don't worry about what is in fashion. The wrinkles..whatever...I consider them to be badges of honor..I made it this far!! Whoo hoo!!
    That all three of us may be young at heart and body for years to come!!! Wonderful post hon!!
    Love ya, Sarah

    Oh and by the week as you get closer to 60 and I get closer to 50 - we should be happy dancin' together!!!

  2. I have to say it's been a long, very loaded-with-life decade. Both good and bad, but yes, we're still here to live another day and that's a good thing. Let's dance!

  3. Being someone who has been sixty for a month and still thinking, how did that happen, it seemed only yesterday that I was 30. The author Harry Mulisch's theory was that everybody had a absolute age which they will always have. His absolute age was 17. I think that is a good way to live life.

  4. that's a new one to me! I am by no means anything of what my parents or grandparents were at this age. You're right...kind of squishy and resigned to just the garden for any kind of activity. I think as baby boomers, we started out active and have just kept up that way. I do however, agree with the docs saying that we don't want to grow old. I happen to love comes with a nice gift called wisdom..the wisdom to take care of myself physically and mentally so that I can walk through that door at 100 on my own two feet too!