The messaging around aging pretty much goes something like this: you are old, so you are sick - take X to get fixed. Feel tired? Try this hormone supplement. Got some wrinkles? Try our newest Botox therapy. Do you have pain in your joints? Hey, rub this on your knee and if that doesn’t work you can always get a new one, they are made out of titanium these days didn’t you know?
It seems like every time we turn on the tv there is an ad letting us know how we can, or should I say should, be living like we were when we were teens, minus the acne, low bank account and of course the angst.
With a growing baby-boomer population, especially on Bowen, we are not immune to this messaging. Whether it is the “virtual gastric band” that has a “95%” success rate (which I recently saw advertised on the Queen of Capilano) to the more conventional (I use this term relatively) meditative practices that seem to be able to cure all of our aches and pains, there is no shortage of secret potions/practices on our island that seniors should be clamoring for.
Even amongst my colleagues the language surrounding aging has changed, “take this health survey and get your true physical age,” for example.
In my books if you are 50, you have the body of a 50 year old, no matter how much you exercise. Aging is not something to be avoided even if that were possible. Our bodies change at different rates and yes, fitness can greatly enhance our body’s ability to function, but at the end of the day age is just a number and something we may want to celebrate a bit more.
One of the greatest benefits of my job as a Health and Lifestyle consultant is that I get to meet lots of seniors. Seniors have been there and done that. Why reinvent the wheel? I might as well learn something from someone who has been around the block and save myself the trouble.
What depresses me in my conversations with many of them is that there is so much messaging designed to make them feel they are inadequate and in need of intervention, that it is hard for them not to suck that in.
We’ve all seen the ads of happy seniors jumping over logs chasing down their grandsons. Take this glucosamine supplements (they don’t work by the way) and you too can be running through the woods with a smile on your face. Or the almost unrelenting focus on getting all men over the age of 50 to take some hormone supplement which will make them feel like they are the new alpha male in the Cove. The ads all have two common themes: create an unrealistic image of a senior resulting in a feeling of inadequacy for the viewer and then hit that viewer with your product they will think will get them to that unrealistic imaginary super senior.
The forces of sales and marketing prey on our vulnerabilities whether we are young or old. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help us feel healthier and better in our bodies, but they can’t make our bodies young again. None of us can escape aging, so why not embrace it? For those of us lucky enough to have long lives, we will feel the effects of accumulating years... instead of trying to buy our exercise our way out, it might be worthwhile to take a step back and consider the situation from a new perspective, and maybe then we can set an example of appreciation for what life has given us to the young people in our lives.