In the year 2525, if man can survive, if woman is still alive…” — Zager and Evans
It’s 2016. 2016! That seems like it should be a year in the distant future. For some reason, 1974 is stuck in my head, and I have been having some trouble wrapping my head around 2014, 2015 and now 2016. My children have told me that this whole “issue” I have with time passing way too quickly is actually a sign of my imminent old age. I know and I raised these guys; where did I go wrong?
My mother is 80 years old, and she has frequently commented that she never envisioned her old age, for she never expected to get this old. Unlike dreaming about getting married, having a career or raising children, very few of us ever see ourselves at 80, 85 or 90. We don’t mentally prepare for our “imminent old age.”
When I try to think about what I will be like when I am old, the Zager and Evans song “In the Year 2525” always comes to mind, and instead of thinking about me, I think about the song. This particular song comes to mind because until I just looked it up for this article, I have been misremembering it as “In the year 2020 if man can survive, if woman is still alive.” What does not come to mind is me at 80 — what I am doing, how I look and where I live.
Without this mental rehearsal that helps us prepare for so many other stages of life, how can we get ready? There is the usual advice about saving money, exercising, eating right, developing hobbies and maintaining relationships. But for me, that is vague and a bit overwhelming. I find it easier to think about being ready for aging in terms of capacity.
If I want to be able to do my own grocery shopping when I get to be in my 80s, I need to be able to walk a half a mile. It now becomes a matter of maintaining the capacity to walk at least a half a mile and not about “exercising.” If I can walk a half a mile, I will have enough capacity to go grocery shopping.
If I want to be able to take things out of my cupboards or off of my closet shelves when I get to be in my 80s, I need to be able to raise my arms above my head and lift a can of soup up and down. It now becomes a matter of doing some simple stretches and a few arm raises with light weights to make sure I can still do it. If I can raise my arms and lift soup cans, I will have enough capacity to put things away.
If I want to be able to have friends that I can call or visit with when I get to be in my 80s, I need to make an effort to stay in touch with my old friends and reach out to people who might be a bit younger than I. If I have friends of different ages and stay in touch… well, you get it.
This seems to work for me. I find myself frequently thinking about capacity. How can I maintain my capacity to do the things that are important to me? Since I am still 20 years away from being 80, I won’t know if this worked or not, but for now it helps me feel like I am taking some positive steps in preparing for my “imminent old age.”