I am aware that as I age I can expect a decline in my ability to respond to stress, to have increasing homeostatic imbalance and risks of diseases. In all probability, I might have osteoporosis and other illness women are prone to. All these point to the eventuality of aging and its climax, death. But before death, a woman has to lose her youth, her ability to bear children, and finally, her ability to take care of them. Death is almost an escape, because aging is the more trying part for a woman. Statistics show that women who live with their spouse usually are the ones who provide when their spouse gets disabled or sick.
Aging women are more prone to chronic diseases and accidents like falls, and more likely to spend longer days in the hospital. Senior women face more assault attacks than their senior counterparts. Women do more in this day and age, and as we grow older we find that the things we need to take care of do not decrease – we need to have our own savings and pension in case we do not qualify for the benefits of Medicare, but savings is already an issue when a woman has a family to provide for, and family not being limited to one’s children but also including extended family.
As I age, I know that I will be taking care of both older and younger members of my family. Further more than science, there are many different philosophies on aging, just as there are on most other things that affect matters that deal with life and death, and my personal philosophy has changed, in shape and point of view, with each new challenge that the presence of aging has caused me to face. It’s like a learning curve; one of those life experiences that are continuous, changing, and multi-faceted. The aging process, at the end of the day, has touched every area of my life.
And as if these were not enough, the media is harping on the loss of beauty aspect of aging, encouraging aging women to erase the lines on our faces and seek the fountain of youth with creams and pills. I feel bombarded with all the pressure to hold on to a fading notion of beauty, of debating whether to get a cosmetic surgery, a breast augmentation, of trying to look twenty-something when in reality I am happy with being forty-something. I find all these overwhelming, all fighting for the attention of aging women everywhere. What matters most – health, beauty, age?
These things all have their explanations, their roots in cells degenerating under my skin and my organs functioning non-stop for the past forty years. I treasure my own kind of beauty, but I realize that more than what people see on the surface, it is the beauty within that matters, the beauty that no surgery can manufacture. When I look back at everything that I have learned, more than the science of it, I am more enamored with the spiritual aspect of aging. Have I grown emotionally, intellectually, psychologically, and not just biologically?
Have I matured and developed my abilities and senses, or have I just grown simply older? I find these questions more important to me. Even now after so many years, I value the choice women are given. We can dwell on any aspect of aging, we can choose not to dwell on aging at all and be consumed by anxiety. Instead, we can do our best to be the best selves we can be. Testing/Application Aging is only the physical manifestation of the state of the body, the vessel by which I move around this earth. I have real social, economic, and health concerns especially as I age belonging to a minority, and as a woman.
There is also a very real fear, over what could happen, what I can and cannot do, what will become of me, how I will survive, what will happen to my daughter and family after I can no longer take care of them and myself. But there is only so much I can do to prepare for the unforeseeable future and all that it has in store for me. And I have heroes and models – my grandmother and mother, and I have faith. I know that my body will give way as I count the years, but as long as I make the needed preparations now, I know I would have done my best.