I'm getting old and I can't do it anymore!

Yes, you can! Just differently.

In either case, you made it to the top!

On a recent visit to my GP, his resident assistant asked me how I was feeling. I told her I’m not sure, as I have never been this old before! We both laughed, but there is an element of truth in that as we move through our retirement years.

Before retirement, most of us think about everything we would like to do when we finally have “all that time” on our hands. Some create a bucket list of must-dos.

But once we arrive there, too many of us do not reach these goals. Has our advancing age gotten in the way? Health? Finances? Family? If we feel a limitation on what we think we can do, do we simply give up?

Praia de Paraíso, Algarve

How often do we tell ourselves, “I can’t do it” rather than asking, “How can I do it, perhaps differently?” For every choice in life, there is an alternative – that is why it’s called a choice! When we have joint issues, do we look at what we can still do, albeit modified – or stay home, inactive? When we were younger and were injured playing sports or from an accident, we kept going.When I had my first hip replacement at 50, I returned to school after a medical leave and had my classroom moved from the third with no elevator to the first floor. We managed.

Albufeira, Algarve

In retirement, if we can’t climb up those steep stairs or trail on a hill, is there a chairlift, shuttle, outdoor escalator, or other mobility aids to help? Do you feel excluded at more physically challenging venues, or in situations where you had no problems in the past? While hosting a group tour to Portugal and Spain, although we faced these issues daily, we still found ways to get by. Touring another country, accommodation could always be made for those less mobile, depending on the venue. Being in a group provided support and with adequate planning, mobility issues were never a hindrance.

You should ever feel excluded or a burden to others due to mobility issues. Maintain a positive but realistic attitude about your abilities, regardless of age – and stay flexible and patient with yourself and others.

If you enjoy long walks or hiking, consider locations with boardwalks and accessibility ramps. If you love beach walks but need walking sticks or have balance issues, there are beaches with walkways over the sand so you can manage.

Benalmadena, Spain

We all have experienced, or will at some point experience, the loss of friends or family. When you feel ready, consider a travel or activity opportunity to meet others. This may seem intuitive, but often is not. There are many social activities you might not join because you “don’t know anyone,” or just don’t have the initiative to do it. Having been in a classroom for much of your life, you would be sensitive to students who were new, or having issues at home, and do your best to help them integrate and contribute. Why should this be different in your own life after you retire? There are plenty of ways to become more social: joining clubs, group sports like pickleball, volunteering, hospital visits, community activities, to name a few.

If you must stop driving at night, or perhaps turn in the keys for safety, there are many alternatives to staying home. Order an Uber or taxi, or see if there are any volunteer drivers in your community. Reach out to friends and family for the occasional ride. And of course, there is always public transportation.

Many of us downsize in retirement, or move from a multi-story home to a bungalow, condo, or complex that provides more accessibility. We can do this in most aspects of our lives to still be active and still enjoy our lives, regardless of our abilities.

ARTA Wellness Walk, North Glenmore Park, April 2024

Finally, if your bucket list includes travel and you perhaps must travel solo (which can be expensive with single supplements), consider joining a group long stay (twenty-one days or longer in a destination) that is hosted and planned. You can still have independence with the security of a group and help, if needed. If you use a travel agent, be clear of any concerns you have in traveling or mobility to ensure they find a product you will be happy and secure with ­– they can’t help if you don’t communicate your needs.

Age should not be the reason to say, “I can’t do this”! Age should provide you with the experience to know there are other ways you can do it.

Ron Jeffery
Wellness Committee Member