As some of you may already know, Be Brave. Lose the Beige is a place for Baby Boomer women, Lady Boomers as I like to call us (as I most definitely fit into this demographic). I write about issues facing our generation. I started writing back when we were struggling with how to fill our empty nests followed by how to cope when it filled back up and emptied for a second and third time. The issues have transitioned in the ensuing years to - (1) navigating retirement retirement options, (2) the advent of grandchildren in our lives, (3) our changing bodies, and (4) caregiving and health care issues. Aging, as the pundits are want to say, "is not for sissies". So true for me as I face a myriad of joint issues, thinning hair, feet issues, and a wrinkly neck (remember Nora Ephron's quote in her book, I Feel Bad About My Neck- Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth...You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t if it had a neck.” She was 65 when she wrote that book (not long before her untimely death six years later). At 63, I'm really relating. I find I'm obsessing about the shampoo/conditioning protocols to deal with my dry hair; shoes...I'm totally obsessed with finding shoes that can help me manage a Morton's Neuroma and Plantar Fascitis; even makeup- what can help keep up the lie on my face as Ephron put it. So...periodically I will post tips from experts on these topics. I read with interest a recent article in The New York Times entitled "There Is a Right Way to Wash Your Hair". I actually clicked on it and received good information about:
I'm not much of a girlie girl (if I can even use that reference at my age) but I found this article fascinating. I hope you will too. I'll post tips from other experts soon. (Disclaimer: I researched neck enhancement tips but they all looked incredibly painful.
- The right way to brush your hair.
- Using a vegetable derived oil to moisturize hair as opposed to conditioner which can weigh down your hair.
- The right kind and amount of shampoo depending upon the nature of your hair
- The correct way to rinse your hair
- Even the correct method for towel drying your hair.
I tend to write a lot about baby boomer women, (most likely because I sit squarely in the middle of that demographic) so I was more than a little amused when I ran across this “Baby Boomer Barbie” photo on Pinterest. (Click here to see the Autumn Wind Studio's version of Barbie as a Baby Boomer) I was six when the original premiered in 1959. In March, Barbie will be 58. This commercial icon has evolved over the years- sporting tattoos and fishnet stockings, becoming an entrepreneur, developing a handicapped version of herself; Mattel even added an ethnically diverse line of Barbie dolls. She has obviously undergone many of the same transitions as the rest of us Boomers with a little pop culture thrown in for good measure. I have no illusions, however, that the toy company will launch an aging version of this Baby Boomer icon any time soon.
But in point of fact, we’ve been marketed to all our lives and it does not appear to be slowing down I recently read an article by Jia Tolentino entitled “How Empowerment Became Something for Women to Buy”.
“No matter what, the intent of this empowerment is always to sell.”
Commercial Ad Campaigns Marketed to Boomer WomenTolentino cites women's empowerment pitches by companies such as:
- Aerie, the lingerie brand of American Eagle, who increased its sales by 26% in the last quarter of 2015 on the strength of its #AerieReal campaign which disses photoshop and employs models of a slightly larger size, describing it as “empowering”.
- Dove who increased sales by $1.5 billion with it’s #RealBeauty advertising campaign, recognizing few older women label themselves “beautiful”.
- Brawny’s paper towels- “StrengthHasNoGender”;
Her question, and I guess mine as well, is do we, as baby boomer women, start feeling better about ourselves after watching these ad campaigns? Is women’s empowerment a made up Madison Avenue phrase? I’m interested in your opinions. Please comment.
Note: This author actually thinks the term “empowerment” has become a trivialized phrase. “The deep truth about “empowerment” is that it has never been defined by the people who actually need it. People who talk empowerment are, by definition, already there.'
Back to Barbie- I’ve grown up with Barbie. Probably at 15 I did share her impossibly slender shape. Alas, for obvious reasons, there will never be a Baby Boomer Barbie for sale with her thickened hips and silvery hair. I’m sure Matell realizes there would be a slim market for that version of the doll. But it is still kind of fun looking at the picture. I think our generation is aging pretty well, a fact I find quite empowering.
Why do some older people remain mentally nimble while others decline? “Superagers are those whose memory is actually on par with healthy, active 25-year-olds.That statement seems far-fetched. Apparently though, research suggests working hard at something increases the chance of remaining mentally sharp even as we venture into the last trimester of our lives. There are critical regions of our brains that remain thick and healthy through vigorous exercise or disciplined mental efforts. And, they are not talking just about participating in Luminosity brain games, crossword puzzles, or Sudoku. They are referring to learning a new language or musical instrument.
What counts as a superager?According to the article, Superagers are the Marines of maturing adults. Not only does the work have to be difficult, there must be an element of discomfort from the exertion, which literally builds muscles and mental discipline. This reminds me of Younger Next Year wherein Chris Crowley says the ticket to turning back the biological clock and living like 50 year olds well into their 80s is strenuous exercise- the spin class workout kind of exercise or power yoga. These Superagers excel at pushing past the temporary unpleasantness of intense effort. Studies suggest the result is a more youthful brain that helps maintain a sharper memory and a greater ability to pay attention. It is human nature to avoid unpleasantness. As we age, though, this tendency becomes more acute as we sidestep situations that make us uncomfortable. Herein lies the rub-- we can also sidestep challenging physical or mental exertions (not unusual since we feel we have earned the right to relax and take it easy). However, if people consistently avoid strenuous physical or mental exertion, brain tissue gets thinner from disuse. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Two People In My Life I Count As SuperagersThere are a couple of people in my life who fit this bill. Twice a week Jim engages in a power lifting workout with his personal trainer where he bench presses 180 pounds in multiple reps. Other days find him biking, swimming, and doing yoga. At 67 he has taken up playwriting as a hobby and is learning German in advance of a trip to Bavaria. At 72, Ann is fearless about keeping up with the latest technology. She Instagrams, Facebooks, discovers new apps, and taught herself email marketing strategies through Constant Contact. Were it not for a back injury you would find her spinning regularly at a nearby cycling studio. Oh, and she is also an accomplished fabric artist. Superagers or not, I think these two are super people in my book.
Today, we smash the stereotypes of what getting older is "supposed" to look and be like and to celebrate the exciting and limitless possibilities of aging.We were promised…
There will be nothing OLD and everything BOLD about the Growing Bolder® Awards, the first ceremony of its kind in Central Florida. We’re shining the spotlight on local seniors who, as valuable members of our community, are pursuing their passions and living lives of purpose while making a difference in the lives of others.Quite an ambitious agenda, huh? Well, I’m here to tell you, they fulfilled their promises. I can only speak for my self but I imagine everyone who left Full Sail University was inspired to reimagine aging. And inspiration is what Growing Bolder is all about. Their weekly radio segment inspires listeners to chase their dreams. Growing Bolder® TV features stories about real people who have survived challenges and thrived. Their mantra is “It’s not about age, it’s about attitude. The rest of our lives can be the best of our lives”. These themes and messages serve as a refreshing counterpoint to the constant drumbeat of ageist stereotypes in our society. Marc Middleton, one of the founders of Growing Bolder® says ageism is one of the biggest public health issues facing our society. Visit the card section in your local Target or CVS. The “humorous” birthday cards for post 45 year olds are riddled with messages such as “Wow! You are Really Old!”, “You are officially Over the Hill”, and “You are past your expiration date”. Gag gifts include inflatable walkers (and sometimes real ones). My step-mother gave my father an “Over the Hill” birthday party when he turned 50. As a 27 year old I thought this was funny. Looking back as a 63 year old, I’m less amused. Seniors are characterized as “frail”, mentally slow, even helpless. Most of advertising dollars target people 50 and younger. So I was thrilled to see real people receiving beautiful Growing Bolder® awards, “Boldies” as they were deemed, “for defying these stereotypes and living full and active lives well past their expiration dates”. Twenty awards were presented. The following is a sampling of the awards: The Compassionate Caregiving Award presented by the Pabst Foundation to Carol Mead, an artist who has struggled with an impairment resulting from an industrial accident. Carol created a Genealogy Mentoring Program for older adults and opened her home for a teenage rehabilitation program. The Move Forward. Give Back® Award presented by Growing Bolder honored Joe and Janet Johnston who have mentored local youth. Both are now nationally ranked pole-vaulters (Joe is in his 70s). They have the area’s only private pole-vaulting pit in their backyard and welcome anyone, of any age, to come and learn at no cost. The Rock Stars of Aging® award was presented to Roselio Muniz who is 102 years old and still has a driver’s license. Dr. Loretta Ford, who founded the Nurse Practitioner movement helping to transform healthcare as we know it, was awarded the Changemaker Award. Growing Bolder® regularly posts inspirational quotes on their website and Facebook page. One I saw recently says, Note to Self: You are not too old and it is not too late. I would love to present Growing Bolder with the Super Heroes of Aging award for their work to change the perception of aging.
Demographically these seniors don’t fit the profile of graffiti artists. The hope is that by introducing something new, a different pathway and channel opens up in the brains and it is possible to get a glimpse of the person that is still there".And Denver is not the only city promoting grandparent graffiti movements. Lisbon, Portugal has created Lata 65 (Lata is can in Portuguese; 65 the historical age designation for senior citizens). +65 year olds are paired with street artists in workshops to learn the logistics of stencil making and spraying. The project is revitalizing and coloring the city with fresh perspectives from older sources. To say I love these projects would be an understatement. Creative expression enriches lives, why shouldn’t it enrich our aging. As one of the founders of Lata 65 noted, “It’s promising to see graffiti and street art being used to tackle the untrendy issues of elder outreach and ageism.” I am a Baby Boomer and my readers tend to be members of the Baby Boomer generation. A characteristic of this generation is our quest to be cool. I think being budding Banksys (Banksy is a British graffiti and street artist with an international reputation for cool) would totally fulfill that goal.
Plan (Sooner rather than later)Talk with Parents about their wishes while they are still healthy. Be informed of their expectations. Once your parents become seriously ill, it will be much more difficult to talk with them about this. Follow the Scout’s motto- Be Prepared.
Push the Help ButtonIt can be less stressful if you have help. If you feel that you simply can’t cope, you should use professional home care services. You should also consider installing medical alert systems in your home.
Plan your financesFinances are often a delicate subject. However, discussing finances with aging parents while they are healthy is essential. A working knowledge of how much money you will have available for extra care is important.
Cut down your costsYou can save money if you to buy medical devices through proven and reputable online vendors. Always make sure to stick to your planned budget.
Cope with stressYes, it is quite stressful to see your parent struggling to perform simple everyday tasks. Find ways to relax. Otherwise, your own health can be impacted.
Consider whether it is a good idea to quit your job in order to take care for a parent
Check whether your employer has some flex-time or family leave ideas. Maybe there is a way to keep your job and provide your parents with elderly care at home. Will the loss of benefits impact your own finances?
Create a caregiving budgetBefore considering whether to leave your job, have a look at what you are actually spending on caregiving and how you finance this expense.
Get informed about free or low-cost benefitsThere are websites available providing information about getting help with caregiving and public benefits you might be able to access.
Understand the costs of parents remaining in their homeUnderstand the costs you might incur should your parents choose to remain in their own homes.
Protect your parents from financial scams