I finally told the physical therapist the real reasons why I do not want to use a walker or a cane. I spontaneously smiled and looked away and said, “I don’t want to appear old and disabled. And I can still walk without it. I could tell she understood, but she reminded me that I may experience another fall that will injure me more severely–like a broken hip. I understand her point. It was hard to reveal those feelings to the therapist, but the right time to do so.
I wonder how many other older Americans struggle with similar issues. Probably most of us. I sense that some young people seem to want to rush us into the category of old-disabled. I wonder why? Are they uncomfortable with that transitional stage we go through in that transitional stage we go through of as we do move gradually from being fully functional to being frankly impaired?
Some of today’s seniors seem to be committed to remaining as mentally active and creative as possible, pushing the definition of what it means to be old intellectually, Other’s, I have noticed, seem to resist. Some remain flexible in thinking, very well-informed on current events, and exhibit a yearning for novel experiences. Others, I have also noticed, seem to push in the opposite direction.
As I approach my 70th birthday in a couple of months, these kind of issues weigh somewhat heavily on my mind. As a creative person, musically and in terms of writing, I have a strong inner motivation to keep on keepin’ on with my creative work. I do feel that age discrimination exists in the publishing industry, as it does in many spheres of our culture. I think that it is much harder to break out with a book published by a mid-size or large publishing company. This is very frustrating. But I have never been a quitter, and meanwhile, find other ways to share my work, through self-publishing, Facebook, our website, and my Open Salon blog, as well as my intermittent political columns published in the Asheville Citizen-Times and letters published in USA Today.
Age discrimination seems to be a subject that many people shy away from talking about. But I plan to do so. I hope to put together a book on the challenges of aging, and this will include a chapter on age discrimination.
Well, these are some initial thoughts as I gear up to more seriously engage in writing on the subject.