Instead of dreading your 80th birthday, here’s what you should do instead – Orange County Register

Q I’m about to turn 80 and I can’t stop focusing on my birthday. In fact, I’m afraid of it. Any tips on dealing with 80 for a woman heading into this new decade? I am grateful yet concerned. Thanks very much. tf

Gratitude is due. If you were born in 1900, you may have only lived 47 years, which was the life expectancy at the time. Luckily, most have a predictable life ahead of them. Today, the average life expectancy of an 80-year-old woman in the United States is 90.1 years.

Not so good news: Unfortunately age is a risk factor for diseases and especially for chronic conditions. We know that 80 percent of adults aged 65 and over are affected at least one chronic disease; 68 percent have two or more. Then there is Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias that increase with age. The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association reports three percent 65 to 74 year olds, 17 percent of 75 to 84 year olds and 32 percent of the over 85 year olds Alzheimer’s dementia. Loss of mobility is a problem. The CDC reports mobility problems are prevalent among 35 percent of those over 70 and the majority of those over 85.

Add to this our age environment which suggests that older women should never look at their age and do whatever it takes to look younger. This message is conveyed by magazines, newspapers, the entertainment industry and social media. How many times have we heard she looks great for her age? The industry reminds us to dodge aging with Botox, Restylane, lotions, potions, and more.

Some good news: These risk factors can serve us well by motivating us to adopt a healthy lifestyle that can slow the aging process and reduce the risks associated with aging. For example, strength training can increase muscle mass, which means you can get stronger and prevent mobility issues. Learning something new can create new neural pathways in our brain that improve cognitive function. Having friends and acquaintances can also reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Living meaningfully can lead to a longer lifespan.

More good news: According to a study by psychologist Katherine Etsy, most people are happier in their 80s than they were in their younger years. Based on the results of the survey of 128 octogenarians over three years, see phe told CNBC, “The stereotypes that people have about old age are just completely wrong,” she says. “The variety of what people are doing in their 80s is breathtaking. Many people are pain free and live full lives and travel.” She found three reasons Why it is like that: People in their 80s have a sense of purpose; They experience less stress, worry and anger than they did when they were young and live in the moment.

The winners of the recent Academy Awards gave us some positive messages about older women. In the movie “80 for Brady” with Rita Moreno, Sally Field, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin we see women in leading roles aged 77 to 91 years. Best Actress winner Michelle Yeoh, 60, said: Ladies, don’t let anyone tell you that you’ve ever passed your prime. “Never give up.” These women are not 80 years old; However, they contribute to a slowly changing mindset about older women.

On the lighter side, here are some benefits of reaching 80 that may allay some of your concerns and make you smile as quoted in The Bulletin.

  • You’ll never have to experience puberty again.
  • 80 years have made you smarter.
  • Napping is allowed.
  • You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to.
  • Means many birthday cards.
  • You not only know the story; you lived it
  • It’s a great number as you are a great person.
  • You have learned a deeper appreciation for almost everything you hold dear in your life.

We must be aware of the risks that come with aging and commit to a lifestyle that mitigates those risks. We must also ignore the messages from society that tell us that women are less than 80 years old – in terms of beauty, ability, creativity, caring, contribution and experiencing joy and wonder. We need to take that awareness and translate it into healthy behaviors and positive self-concepts as much as possible. This can help change how we feel about our own older birthdays.

Happy Birthday TN and thanks for your good question. Enjoy this special day with best wishes for many wonderful years. This day and every day, be kind to yourself and to others.

Helen Dennis is a nationally recognized leader on aging and the new retirement with academic, corporate and community experience. Contact Helen with your questions and comments at Visit Helen at and follow her at Instead of dreading your 80th birthday, here’s what you should do instead – Orange County Register

Adam Bradshaw

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