The Awful Truth about Ageing

They never give us the real low-down,  those advertisers, authors and authorities who make a living catering to any adults who have passed the ripe old age of fifty.  FIFTY!  I ask you!   Fifty is barely the prime of life! Most of us are just beginning to think we should get serious about our futures.  Our kids are on their way to finding their own lives and mortgages are being paid off as we catch that first glimpse of old age off in the distant future.

Gently gilded ladies in heels, and lightly silvered gentlemen with maybe a wrinkle or two here or there, start pitching financial planning, retirement communities, medications and other lucrative angles to ageing. They’re invariably engaged in dancing, tennis, golf, horseback riding, hiking, biking, swimming or sailing, They happily smile out at us with perfect teeth and they never wear glasses or holler  “HUH?” as they hold a hand up to their ear.

And we think to ourselves, “That doesn’t look so bad.  I can handle this old age stuff.”  Even the actors portraying the unfortunate souls who show up on television stretched out on the floor calling for help don’t look a day over sixty. Their attire is always fresh and neat, hairdos in place.

What about us, the real age afflicted, who’ve begun to suspect that The Golden Years are badly tarnished? Why don’t the illustrations show us as we really are? We’re out here in our faded sweats with the baggy knees, creaking and groaning as we work our way out of our recliners, wrinkled, bent over and anxiety-ridden.

We eagerly scan the magazine articles, watch the TV ads and listen to the spiels for medications for every ailment known to humankind, wanting to believe the hype. We can watch with relief as our money grows; all we need to do is invest with such and such a company, investment banker or credit union. We can revisit our younger years in carefree comfort just as soon as we get settled into  “Heavenly Haven, Home To Active Adults”  or  “Eden For The Elderly.”  We might even enjoy perfect health once again, just by using their advertised product.

Who would have dreamed the human body could suffer so many varied afflictions? We used to get the rheumatiz, the grippe, the gripes, or possibly a skin problem, quickly eased by a liberal rub down with Raleigh’s Salve. Hot packs, mustard plasters or Carter’s Little Liver Pills were other treatments of choice.

Nowadays we’re offered a miraculous panacea for every  possible joint, organ and bone we have. Our medicine cabinets overflow with tiny containers we can’t get open without a hammer and pliers, and slippery bottles of vile colored liquids concocted to cause, not cure, stomach aches. Still, hope springs eternal, as the old saying goes, and we use them all.

So do we end up looking like the vigorous, youthful models who supposedly represent us?  Well, let’s put it this way, if the shower has steamed up the bathroom mirrors enough, and we’ve misplaced our trifocals, there’s a slight possibility of recognizing our younger selves.

Just don’t count on it.

On the other hand, could a balding codger with a shaky voice inspire enough confidence to peddle tooth whitener by removing his full set of dentures and dropping them in a glass full of the product being pitched?

Would you be interested in moving into a senior residence where everyone sat around dozing in a wheelchair or staring at a wall? How  about negotiating at a Savings and Loan with a blue haired old dear who admitted she’d flunked math every year since the fifth grade?

Maybe the ad-men know what they’re doing with the younger, more glamorous representatives, and we can believe what we want to.


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