Aging and Ageism

Although I have experienced sexism in my life — being turned down for a job because I am a woman — I am not aware of being a victim of ageism. At 76 years old, I have had the opportunity to work until I was ready to retire at 70 years and I have enjoyed some of the benefits of aging, without its disadvantages. Of course, I am leaving out the physical disadvantages of declining health, which I experience. Let me describe three advantages of aging that I have enjoyed.

The first that I experienced was participation in the local Council on Aging (senior center) that I approached tentatively in my sixties, because of course, that was for old people, not me. Despite my age, I did not yet see myself as part of that age group. I don’t remember the first activity that I joined at the Beverly COA, though it was probably an exercise class. Soon after, I learned about a tap dancing class in Marblehead, where beginners were welcomed. Yes, never having taken a dance class, I began tap dancing in my late sixties! My success was not measured by public performances, though I participated in some, but by the joy I experienced by dancing with incredible women and a teacher, Debbie, who brought us together as a community of love. For more details, see Goodbye to Tap Dancing.

That was among my first deep connections to area COA’s, before joining a writing class with Barrie, who continues to encourage me. Additionally, during Covid isolation, I joined a COA class in Holyoke, in which I continue to participate remotely. For more on this, see Thank You, Teachers!

Sometimes, aging generates a reduced travel cost, which I first experienced in Canada, with their trans-Canadian railroad, half price for seniors. My husband and I flew to Vancouver, then traveled by rail to Jasper and back from Banff, an incredible trip, with spectacular views in comfortable glass-domed cars, connected to dining cars with excellent food and service. Although this happened more than ten years ago, we have remained connected to a Japanese couple from San Francisco, who were celebrating a special anniversary. Sadly, he has died since then, but his wife continues our connection.

A much more local rail discount (and more often used) is the T-card, my Charlie card, facilitated through the Beverly COA, which made it easy to apply for and receive locally. This provides me with half-price MBTA subway and commuter rail tickets. Related to this, recently riding the crowded subway in Boston, a young man, recognizing me as an old lady, offered me his seat. I was pleased to accept it, once again receiving a gift from aging.

My final example concerns travel security or the TSA. When I was in Egypt (Notes on Egypt) last November, removing my shoes once again there before a local flight, another traveler mentioned that, at least in the US, being over 75 eliminated the requirement to remove shoes when passing through a TSA site. Because I turned 76 while in Egypt, I noticed her comment and recalled it in New York, before boarding a flight to Boston. At the TSA site, when asked to remove my shoes, I declared with pride, “I’m 76!” “Ok,” the TSA agent said, “Come on through.” Just one more advantage of aging!

I am aware that ageism exists, that sometimes, perhaps often, someone is discriminated against because of increasing age. Fortunately for me, I have not personally experienced that. Perhaps that is because my facial skin, like my mother’s, enjoys smoothness cultivated from our Italian background, resulting in a younger look. Note this picture of my mother and me on her eightieth and my fiftieth birthdays.

Published by cyrein

Quaker, adventurer, wife, mom, sister, friend, special ed teacher, learner

6 thoughts on “Aging and Ageism

  1. It’s so good that you always look on the positive side of things…that’s probably a big part of your staying young, being so young at heart. Nice article, again!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carole, a beautiful picture of you and your Mom….your skin is gorgeous and i am also Italian and people are surprised at my age of 86— it is definitely our skin. Thanks for this great story.

    Liked by 1 person

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