Aging (10/25/06)

Note From Carol:

Hi all!

I'm on the road to recovery and although I was hoping to receive a halo one day... this wasn't quite what I had in mind.

Thank you to everyone for all the love and support.

XO Carol
Dear Zelda

My husband and I have been married for the past 10 years. We are both well into our 40’s with a little bit of gray starting show, and of course my husband looks dashing and distinguished while I look "old and matronly." We live out on a farm where we don't get to see many people and although my husband thinks I look "great"...I'm not feeling it. I "feel" like I look...OLD. I'm afraid he'll start to wander toward greener pastures. How do you keep your ageless appearance?

Hi Ho Silver!

Dear Hi Ho Silver!,

Well, I certainly appreciate the compliment. Then again, when you’re born looking like a furry raisin, there’s nowhere to go but up! And don't let my so-called perfection fool you—even I require effort to look this good! We’re talking assistants, make-up artists, a great wardrobe, subtle mood lighting, and the one thing all us aging beauties HAVE to have...the Joan Collins soft-focus lens on our camera.

One thing I try to remember is that you’re only as old as you feel. Your attitude, as well as the face you put forward, reveals so much more about you than your years, your wrinkles, or your hair color. The point is, maybe your inner- and outer-selves have fallen out of sync. But never fear! A subtle change may be all you need to put that spring back in your step. It could be as simple a thing as touching up your gray or trying a new hairstyle; or, if you want to try a bigger jumpstart, think about beginning a yoga or art class, starting a new hobby, or planning and taking a trip with your husband. That may be all you need to start feeling (and acting) younger, healthier, and more vibrant. Just don’t go overboard and show up at dinner in a miniskirt with extra helpings of hairspray and rouge… you’re going for Hi Ho Silver, not the silver high ho. Find healthy ways to build your confidence, and to define your own strong, independent identity as you age, and you will have found the closest thing to a fountain of youth that exists. Most importantly, re-read what you just wrote me: your husband thinks you look GREAT! The next time he compliments you, instead of shaking your head or downplaying it, take a deep breath, smile, and say, “thank you.”

Trust me, we all age. But that’s not always a bad thing, as long as we try to do it gracefully, with a little humor and lots of backlighting. Hi Ho Silver, away!


Dear Zelda,

I love your column! My question is about my best friend. He's 37 years old and acts like he's 20 and still in his fraternity. We went to college together and now we work at the same office and he's constantly late, comes in hung over, and is always being text-messaged by the girls he’s met the night before. He complains about not having any money and the fact that he hasn't gotten a raise. I think he needs to grow up and start acting like an adult, but when I say that to him he just laughs and says I'm being an old fart. I think he's a great guy with a lot of potential, but his frat-boy attitude sucks and frankly I'm not sure how much longer our friendship will keep going.

I love the guy, but can you really teach an old dog new tricks?

Miss Erable

Dear Miss Erable,

Of course you can teach on old dog new tricks! Just last week I learned how to get into the cabinet where we keep the dog treats! (If you tell anyone I’ll deny it.) The dog just has to be willing, or, in your friend’s case, sober. Who wouldn't want to re-live the good ol' days when "keggers and toga parties" were all one had to worry about. PUH-LEEZE! But everything has its time and place, and this frat brat needs to wake up and smell the receding hairline.

Now don't misunderstand me, there's nothing wrong with an occasional walk down memory lane, but when walking becomes stumbling, and stumbling becomes just plain annoying, it’s time to take a hard look. Before your friend’s life turns into one big, sad cliché, you need to step in and let him know how you feel.

So, here's the lesson plan. Ask your friend out to coffee (preferably somewhere with JUST coffee), and shoot it to him straight. No BS, and no candy-coating. “You're 37 years old and you're out of control. You act like you're 20, and to be honest, it's one of the reasons you're not moving up the corporate ladder. Your endless text-messaging and daily tales of drunken debauchery are as annoying as they are inappropriate. You’re my best friend, and that’s why I’m saying this to you. I realize that this conversation may jeopardize our friendship, but honestly, right now our differences in lifestyle are already straining that friendship, and it’s too important for me not to say anything.” No one is expecting that he will suddenly change his ways, but the truth is, we all need wake-up calls occasionally in our lives, and it sounds like in this case he may have overslept his alarm by about ten years. Who knows, with a little more studying and a little less partying, he may yet graduate to become a full-fledged adult.

Be strong, and be prepared for him not to take it well. Even if you have his best interests at heart, he may not realize it, and it may truly hurt your friendship. Be prepared, Miss Erable: even if your intentions are good, you may end up Miss Understood.


Dear Zelda,

I have an 8-year-old Irish Setter who runs with me every morning. She's not quite the sprinter she used to be. At what age should you stop trying to exercise your dogs and just let them grow old, relax and lay on the porch stoop? Is there a good retirement age like people?

Setter with Age

Dear Setter with Age,

What a great question; I’ve been lobbying for retirement around here for years, but so far no one’s listening! Being concerned about your dog's retirement is wonderfully considerate of you. Personally, I'm counting the days until I can retire to a sandy beach in my string bikini, sip my mimosa and pass the hours tanning my tummy.

As much as it pains me to admit this though, in general, dogs (like their owners) are never too old to exercise. It promotes cardiovascular health and increases circulation, keeps weight down (which helps reduce joint stress), builds muscle, and may even slow the aging process. Just like with people, though, the appropriate level of exercise varies with age and health. A dog with bad hips, with heart problems, or who is just getting older may need a milder routine than a young, healthy pup who can’t seem to burn off enough energy. To keep track of your dog’s health, it’s definitely worth taking her to have a physical at least once a year. Use the results of these exams to make your decisions about her exercise limits, which should be based more on her health than her age. A healthy eight-year-old can handle a lot more exercise than a sick six-year-old.

If you’d like more specific advice on tailoring appropriate exercise for your dog, I would recommend just talking to the vet the next time you bring her in for a visit. The vet will know your individual dog, and will be able to suggest a specific, tailored exercise program. Ultimately, you can use your dog’s own behavior as a measure of when she has had enough or too much. Sagging tails, drooping eyes, sitting or laying down during breaks, and the occasional tripping over a dragging tongue are good indications that we're "power-pooped" and ready for a "power nap." And if your dog is sore or especially slow-moving the day after some exercise, it may suggest that it’s becoming a little bit much for her.

Hope that helps... now run (or walk) like the wind!