This Mortal Coil

Good natured teasing, I have always believed, is a sign of affection. Therefore I did not get upset when people in yoga laughed and said I want to keep up with the 20 year olds in class. Besides, it was true. I do want to keep up with the 20 year olds! (Actually, I can outperform some of the 20 year olds, but in those cases, it is their issues and not my ‘talent’ that are causing the situation. I find that very sad.)

I am not sure if I have ever acted my age. I know that right now, at 63, I don’t want to act my age. I don’t want to act my age, or perhaps more precisely act like a 63-year-old woman with a visual impairment, because I don’t like the stereotype. The stereotype says we are a bunch of stick-in-the-muds who have no fun! Also, we are helpless and lacking in many skill areas.

Seriously. Think of what people think older folks can do. Then think about what people believe the visually impaired can do. Not much, right? I do not want to be limited like that. Time to bash some stereotypes.

Not only does thinking you have to be the ‘proper’ senior with vision loss interfere with living, it also interferes with LIVING, as in how long you “shuffle around this mortal coil” (The Bard again in Hamlet should you be curious). Younger thinking people live longer.

Really. University College, London ran a study that showed more people who thought they were three or more years younger than their ages were alive after a few years than people who thought they were older than their age were.

Now, granted, the article did not say why people may feel older than their years. It may be there were diseases making them feel older. I am assuming since University College is a respected institution they know how to run a study and control for such confounding variables. I am going to assume it was a well-designed study and take their findings at face value. Why? Because they serve my purposes, of course!

Dr. Sharon Horesh-Bergquist has done a study that found internalizing ‘ageism’ notions is bad for your health. The way you think of aging will influence how you age. If you believe all those stereotypes about old folks, you will age poorly.

In another study, people in Ohio who were proud of their ages and thought they were useful and happy lived 7.5 years longer than their pessimistic peers. I would take that. Better than the alternative.

So there really is such a thing as a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to aging, disability and, yes, even death. Believe you are no longer competent and able to engage in life and that is exactly what will happen.

Which brings us to the thought questions: how have you changed since your vision loss? What have you given up since your vision loss? What do you no longer do ? And now the kicker: what have you given up solely because old, low vision people don’t do things like that?

Next: Not your parents’ amd

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