The good news is that people are not only living longer, they are living healthier. They are approaching their 60s with stronger, more youthful bodies, still-curious minds and a sense of adventure. Life may not begin at 50, but it certainly doesn't end at 60.
Still, we know to expect changes in how we feel and look as we get older. And in this era where we are inundated with information and sharing, it's hard to imagine that there is anything -- anything -- that hasn't been discussed to the blushing point about the changes our bodies go through. Well, actually we can think of five tidbits nobody told us about. They are:
1) Eyebrows and eyelashes sometimes take early retirement.
We love our eyebrows and eyelashes and didn't know what we did to offend them, but somewhere around 62, they went AWOL. In our case, it was because of an irritation caused by new cosmetics. Allergies, for the record, can strike at any age. But midlifers should be on the alert that missing eyebrows and lashes are also a symptom of hypothyroidism and that's something worth a visit to the doctor. In the meantime, the go-to product for eyelash regrowth is the prescription drug Latisse or the over-the-counter Revitalash conditioner. Latisse, originally prescribed to treat glaucoma, turned out to have this great lash-growing side effect and now guess why everyone wants it?
2) You may shrink, but your feet grow.
Everyone knows that gravity has its way with our skeleton and as people grow into their elder years, they appear to "shrink." What actually happens is that our bones become less dense and the gel-like disks in between our vertebra get worn down and thinner. Our spinal column, and we, actually become shorter. Our feet, however, go off in a different direction. Actually, what happens with our feet isn't so much that they grow bigger but that they flatten, get wider and sprout bunions -- all of which require larger shoes. Cosmetic food surgery? Uh, no, but thanks for asking.
3) Blondes will always claim to have more fun and they apparently do win the gray hair derby.
Gray hairs aren't as pronounced on a blonde head, unlike what happens to those of us with brown or black hair. A gray hair sprouts on a brunette and it just sort of waves at us with a challenging "come get me if you can." As a result of this injustice in the universe, blondes don't need to color as frequently as those with darker hair.
4) You can switch to temporary hair color and the sun will still rise in the morning.
The permanent stuff is harsher, we know. So cue up "Glory Days" when you realize that you've hit the tipping point in the balance of new hair growth versus the speed that the temporary color fades or washes out. Touching up just the roots and crown with the non-permanent stuff takes just 15 minutes of wait time and certainly doesn't need to be done in the expensive salon. If you are an anti-gray fanatic, this is huge news.
5) Shopping becomes less interesting, or the opposite happens and you need help.
Ours is a generation that for many years was defined by our possessions. We competed for the biggest houses, the most frequent vacations, the newest cars and whatever shoes Carrie Bradshaw wore that we could still squeeze our expanding feet into. Then came the recession and we got sober.
For many, anti-shopping starts with shoes. The hormone that allowed us to think that breaking in new shoes was a good idea leaves our bodies about the time that our last drop of estrogen does. If shoes aren't comfortable right out of the box, we will no longer buy them. We also outgrow buying outfits for lifestyles we only wish we had. We accept that we don't go to cocktail parties at sunset on yachts very often and if we do get invited to them at all, we probably would still wear our shorts and Reefs.
But for every one of us who forgets where we put our Nordstrom card, a hoarder is born. Hoarding is a serious affliction that often begins when we are tasked with cleaning out a parent's home. It's an emotional experience, and with equal parts denial and sentimentality, we chose to fill our garages and basements with everything from Mom's house instead of admitting that she likely won't ever be leaving the assisted care place and our children don't really want her old tablecloths. From there, it's a slippery slope. With our own retirements and learning to live on less, we look for bargains and often find them at garage sales -- a treasure trove of toasters that only work on one side and wicker baskets that we think we will spray paint red and fill with Christmas cookies next December. The result is often clutter -- sometimes to the point where it becomes unhealthful and we need help breaking the pattern.