How old is “Old?” When is a person considered to be old? Turns out that is a relative matter and depends on who you are talking to or about! And it is highly individual.
When this blog discusses the unique problems of the “mature” or “older” shooter, our target (lol) population seems to start somewhere between around 50 and 85.
I have seen out of shape and health challenged 40 something’s at our pistol classes who have not performed to the level of a few of our septuagenarians – the 70 something’s.
What that says to me is you can’t judge a person’s abilities by the year of their birth.
Feeling and showing effects of age is highly individual and how old a person feels and performs not only varies day to day with health and the attention to staying fit, but in some cases hourly depending on time of day, conditions, health and stamina.
A lot of numbers are tossed around out there about retirement age – being “old” – often portrayed in the Hollywood version with quitting your job and becoming just “grandparents,” traveling to stay in RV villages to bask in the sun and play and gamble, or living miserably on a fixed pension or social security.
Once upon a time middle age started at 40 and old age started at 60, with a lot of companies giving out the gold watch and a boot out the door with mandatory retirement at 50 to 55.
AARP starts their marketing of retirement age around 50!
Discounts at stores and restaurants vary from 50-65!
The IRS keeps pushing back the age of full retirement – which used to be, a long time ago, to 66 for this years retirees, and raising it 67 or 68 and so on, depending on what year you were born.
More people are living longer, healthy productive lives than ever before in our country and all around the world there are more senior citizens. It is typical to hear 68-72 years as the start of being “old”. The popular “three stages of elderly” trend has stages of old, with the “Young Old” at 65-75 years, “Middle Old” at 75-85 years, and the “Old” starting after 85 years.
Personally I am a young sixty something. Physically I am in good health and relatively good shape. I have taken care of myself and being physically fit has been important to me since I was very young. Of course there are extra pounds I could shed, and physical modifications I have learned to protect and cushion my knee and hip joints which sometimes yell at me “WHAT were you thinking!”
Mental and emotional outlook are as important as the physical. If you tell yourself you are old and a grandmother just can’t do the things you used to, it will tend to become a self fulfilling prophecy. If your feet and knees hurt after walking for a prolonged period of time on concrete at Costco or the fabric store or Home Depot, and you tell yourself it’s because you’re old, you’re apt to believe that more often in more situations and places. My preference is to make sure I am wearing the “proper” footwear to cushion my joints when I embark on a day long shopping excursion!
Reality is that the body does age. Sometimes it sneaks up and gives gentle reminders that no matter how good your health condition or attitude is, you are aging.
I know age has snuck up and tapped me on the shoulder – or settled in my joints or kicked me in the gut – and usually I knew I was courting that response! I know better than to indulge in a lot of sugary, fatty foods over the holidays, slack off on exercise and choose to spend a winter’s evening slouched and curled up with a book or watching a great video or movie…. and I do that often enough and I still go down that road regularly enough to get reminders that I am aging!
*** like when I have stayed in a position too long and a joint in my knees or hips “freezes” up…. it can be very painful until it slowly returns to function
*** searching for reading glasses because the print is just way too tiny and my arms aren’t long enough!….
*** during winter here in Montana, when ice conditions are right around freezing and I slip and slide and … ouch… sometimes fall, even though I can get back up by myself, I definitely don’t bounce like I used to! I hit hard and bruising inevitably follows…
*** then just this week I found out that eggs can boil for almost an hour and still be “okay” – I forgot I had them on the stove, and luckily wandered through the kitchen again before all the water had boiled off… I don’t seem to multitask as regularly and juggle everything as well anymore!
At the mature end of the life cycle, there are just as many variables at work as with any age group. Some of the issues that we getting to the older end of that age continuum face inevitably can of course affect anyone of any age. But there are some definite areas to focus on:
Physical: Muscle mass, Joints, Bone density, Hearing, Vision
Mental: Memory, attention span, acuity
Emotional: Tied to physical issues, family and spousal changes, monetary issues
To stay healthy and high functioning throughout the aging process, it does boil down (like my hardboiled eggs lol) to how well we have taken care of ourselves throughout our lifetime, and particular how we behave and pay attention to those issues in these “silver” and “golden” years.”
There is a wealth of information on the internet and in the stores that assist in keeping fit and functioning! And of course, there is a lot of money being made on the products being touted, the oiled glistening bodies of some body builders in their 70s beckoning us to spend our money on a piece of exercise equipment or formulated diet so we can look and function just them!
When an older person slacks off on exercise, has dietary excesses or experiences loss or depression, is started on prescription medications, the results appear quicker and last longer than when that person was younger – Fact is, they are less resilient than they were when they were younger.
I am sure there are some exceptions to the rule, where someone has been blessed with hereditary age-less-ness! More power to them, but that is not the norm. To stay active and healthy, an older person needs to pay a little more attention to life! Injuries sustained from binges and accidents while younger will come to haunt, the “piper” will be paid!
Personally I believe I am entering a wonderful time of life. I know that each day the clock is ticking, and I am determined to live well that day, not put off things as much as I used to. I don’t know how much time I will be granted, or those that I love will be granted. The Good Book says that we are not to know the number of our days!
In summation: if shooting is something you want to do or continue to enjoy, feel like you need to learn for self protection, the adage “where there is a will there is a way” applies.
As in any period of life, you must approach firearms seriously:
*** recognize your ability and limitations,
*** get training in safety and proper handling of a firearm
*** find the right firearm for your situation and physical ability
*** practice practice practice (develop muscle memory!)
Happy and Safe Shooting