Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Barbara Morris, author of No More Little Old Ladies! says women don't become little old ladies as a result of the passage of time; they are created with the help of a culture that makes them think decline is inevitable.
Part of the reason is that dependent old age is very big business, and nobody wants to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Even when dependence doesn't exist, created needs are hawked as necessities
The lifespan has increased by 30 years in the past century, yet age 40 is still regarded as middle age. Well before retirement age women are targeted for "old age" services and products by investment counselors, insurance agents, advertising for senior communities, travel agents, and anti-aging gurus
A major culprit in the prolongation of a misunderstanding of when middle age occurs is the pharmaceutical industry. It runs relentless TV ads that portray midlife and younger women as having "old age" maladies including arthritis, peripheral artery disease, Alzheimer's, dry eyes, constipation, leaky bladder, asthma, depression, restless legs and osteoporosis just to name a few.
The non-stop pitches suggest to still-young women that they are getting old, and the strategy works. Young forty-somethings start to mindlessly utter "I'm having a senior moment" or "I must be getting old" at the slightest ache, pain or temporary memory lapse. They start to talk themselves into feeling and acting old.
Here are three ways midlife women can stave off culturally induced decline:
1. Don't allow persistent "you are getting old" advertising influence how you think about yourself and your needs or abilities. Don't identify with midlife images that suggest decline, and don't buy into non-existent "old age" health conditions created to sell a product or service.
2. Ignore your chronological age – it's meaningless. Honor and live your perceived age – the age you "know" you are. Avoid categorization by age, or age-segregated living arrangements.
3. Remember that managing the aging process is a do-it-yourself project. Have a plan and carry it out, regardless of messages in the culture that would make you act and think like an old woman while you are still young
Barbara Morris, R. Ph.