2002-09-26 / This Week's Attitude

This Week’s

AttitudeNo Matter What, Aging Boomers Can
By Neil S. Friedman

No Matter What, Aging Boomers Can’t Defy Inevitable

"Mirror, mirror on the wall—is that really me?"

Some aging baby boomers — my peer group — may recite that narcissistic fairy tale mantra in their daily routine. Vanity, in spite of everything, is one of the seven deadly sins.

Others may not be as obsessed about self-image, but now and then can’t help but notice an increasing number of gray hairs, nose hairs, ear hairs, no hairs, facial wrinkles — ya know, ‘laugh lines’ — sagging body parts and, perhaps, pot bellies, escalating waistlines, thighs and love handles.

The latter approach may be a lack of vanity. After all, aging baby boomers generally appear younger than previous generations did at this stage of their lives. No doubt healthier, more appropriate diets and exercise are significant factors.

For the last six years the post-World War II generation—the largest segment of the population who are collectively known as Baby Boomers—has been crossing the dreaded 50-year age barrier. (Geez, remember when we thought anyone over 30 was old!) Visions of retirement now dance in our heads.

A recent survey revealed that baby boomers are the most active when it comes to physical fitness as we attempt to maintain suitable waistlines and control gravity that naturally take their bodily tolls. We belong to more health and fitness clubs, practice yoga, walk, run, and exercise more than any other age group. Health is the primary reason, but vanity, no doubt, plays a role, too. Hey, there ain’t nothin’ wrong with good grooming and wanting to look good!

Surely, weight-conscious boomers are the key reason there’s some new, unregulated fad diet popping up every other week. Professional nutritionists insist there’s nothing yet that effectively promotes weight control — except fewer trips to the ‘fridge! The government recently chimed in claiming that most fly-by-night weight loss strategies are scams. What a surprise!

Scientists recently found that our innate passion for food may be connected to our primitive ancestors’ fixation with their next meal. Therefore, the characteristic for sustenance is in our genes. Remember, an obsession with the wrong foods may gradually cause a problem fitting into our jeans.

With all the scientific advances in the last 50 years, the aging process has been extended but not retarded. The fountain of youth remains elusive as ever. The only possible avoidance for aging might be the chilling cryogenic route. Have yourself frozen until remedies for aging and every disease known to man are discovered.

The bottom line: we’re trying to stay healthier and live longer than previous generations.

Modern and alternative medicines also play a vital role in stemming the aging process. Not to mention a host of fashionable cosmetic techniques that can alter one’s appearance as well as shed years and pounds, if you’re willing to shell out thousands of dollars.

In addition to surgical transformations, the cosmetic and other industries that hawk self-maintenance treatments and products, including moisturizers, exfoliants, hair colorants, collagen, Botox, revitalizers and what have you, claiming to slow the external aging process, had combined sales estimated at more than $7 billion last year.

While most baby boomers undoubtedly consumed a variety of good and bad foods, and smoked or ingested a variety of legal and illegal substances in their rebellious youths, as they’ve aged and taken on the role of responsible adults, they’ve adopted restorative, more wholesome lifestyles as they approach The Golden Years. (That future may not be as golden as we dreamed if the economy doesn’t improve and corporate charlatans and greed aren’t contained.)

During our lifetimes (about 20,000 days so far, give or take a few) many diseases have been wiped out; life expectancy has been extended. So, if you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time fretting about gray hair, nose hair, ear hair, no hair and other external physical changes, stop it right now. You can’t defer the inevitable, nor deny your mortality.

Before you go to bed at night, look in the mirror, but don’t ask who’s the fairest of them all. It really doesn’t matter.

Life, for the most part, is good. Just smile (see the laugh lines?), keep a twinkle in your eyes, be grateful if you have a mouthful of teeth — and be happy for those who love you, the friends you have, what you’ve got. And think about tomorrow — it’s another day closer to retirement.

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