Baby boomers have finally reached that age and stage in life we’ve all dreaded —when a major topic of conversation has now become our various ailments. It’s sad but unavoidable. We’re wearing out, getting rusty, past our best-before date. Our maintenance costs have risen dramatically and we require more frequent tune-ups to keep the old girl running efficiently.
In the olden days, a high maintenance woman was considered to have expensive tastes in fashion, beauty products, and personal care. High maintenance for baby boomers today, however, looks a little different. Not only do we still require the mandatory regular mani/pedi treatments, salon hair colouring that costs more than we care to divulge, and regular rotation of our wardrobe pieces, we have added new categories to our personal maintenance programs.
Remember when we always coloured our own hair from a box? Nice n’ Easy or Clairol’s Frost n’ Tip were affordable, easy solutions to getting the California look we wanted. Then, gray started creeping in and with menopause our hair became fragile. Drugstore boxes of hair colour exacerbated the damage, so professional intervention was required. Add more to the maintenance budget.
There was a time when we didn’t need expensive moisturizers, neck creams, retinol, exotic serums, or eye creams formulated with rare oils leeched from the underside of fairy wings or distilled from captured baby tears. After a quick scrub with Dove or Dial soap, some Bonne Belle 1006 and a swipe of Cover Girl foundation, we were good to go. Maybe a bit of Nivea Creme or Noxzema at night for some of us. Now, we employ every combination of ingredients on the periodic table of elements in our attempts to eliminate wrinkles, lighten age spots and bring back the ‘dewey’ skin we once took for granted.
Today’s maintenance costs also include yoga or zumba classes, dental implants and veneers, waxing, exfoliating, peeling, massages, and for some boomers, injections, fillers and more extreme medical intervention. We’re signing up for CPR classes. Our skincare and body treatment products cost the equivalent of a European vacation. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Unless we take care of ourselves, we won’t like ourselves and that’s a much bigger issue to deal with.
When boomers gather together these days, have you noticed how the topic of conversation soon switches to how we’re feeling? Tragically, there’s not a single one of us who doesn’t have a friend or family member affected by cancer. We’re experiencing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout, A-fib, arthritis, fragile bones, hearing problems, cataracts . . . and the list goes on. It’s impossible to ignore what’s happening to our old bodies. These issues have replaced more superficial problems like weight gain and hair loss.
Even though we swore we wouldn’t be one of those people who talked about nothing but their aches and pains, it’s becoming unavoidable at our age. We really do care about how our friends are feeling and reminiscent of the days when we couldn’t understand why old people didn’t like to drive after dark, now we get it. We’re living it. We share helpful hints and health tips we’ve Google’d and support each other during health setbacks.
Golfing, tennis, power-walking, pickleball and other hobbies and sports activities keep us moving but we injure more easily and have to pace ourselves. A shoulder or knee injury could put us out of commission or, worse, require surgery to correct.
My age really hit home the other day when I went to the hairdresser. Before I sat down in the chair, I first had to remove my glasses, then my hearing aids, and park my cane (I fractured my hip just before Christmas). I was totally at the mercy of the stylist . . . I couldn’t hear, couldn’t see and couldn’t stand up.
Boomers are rather like old cars. We’re past-our-prime classics. We still have a solid chassis although with a few nicks and scrapes in need of touchup or buffing. We may have a lot of miles on us but we still have some life left to go before we crap out. Oil changes are more frequent; the exhaust system is probably not up to current environmental standards, and our transmissions take a little longer than they once did to shift into gear, if they ever do. We require more frequent inspections and trips to the shop for maintenance issues but we’re still willing to throw a bit of cash at the old buggy to keep ‘er hummin’.
So, the next time you’re tempted to ask me how I’m feeling, you might want to reconsider. My reply could take awhile. I hate that it’s come to this, but as John Lennon paraphrased, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans,” and time has caught up with us.
There is a bright side, though. We’re the healthiest generation of seniors ever. We’re the most affluent, the best educated, and the most active. There’s every indication that we will enjoy the longest, best senior and retirement years of any generation so far in history and that’s worth celebrating. So, on that thought, let’s just say I’m feelin’ goooood! How about you?