Tweenior (tween-yer) n. 1. One who is in the transitional stage of development between 59 and 65. 2. The phase during which a pre-senior experiences unexpected physical malfunctions, perplexing cognitive glitches, and inexplicable life conundrums. 3. A period of preparation for seniority.
Tweenior and Senior
My younger sister, Tami, turned 60 this past week. She wavered a moment, “I’m not doing very well with this.” In the next sentence, however, she snapped back, “I’m just winging it.” As always, she takes life head-on. Five years her senior, I’ve passed through many phases and stages first. At times, she may have asked for advice. I may have given it. Hopefully I helped!
She’ll handle seniority differently than I. Always the serious one, I have to plan and prepare, have everything totally under control. Tami’s gift is spontaneity. She inherited the fun gene in our family. Whenever she joins a gathering, it becomes a party. She never misses a wine walk, a beach trip, or a pool party. She bikes and skis and snorkels. She lives life to the fullest. She maximizes her vacation and personal time off from work. She quips, “What can they do…fire me?”
Years ago, Tami and her husband held jobs in Wilmington, North Carolina. Instead of living in the city, she and Toss found a house on Pleasure Island, a block from the beach. The beach would be her life and the job simply what she did on the weekdays. That is exactly where she spent her 60th birthday: Kure Beach, Pleasure Island. I have taken notes. Now I live on an island. If I find myself in a decision quandary and ask, “What would Tami do?” I am never sorry.
Signs and Symptoms
Turning 60 carries implications of seniority, but most benefits are usually five years off. We wait to come of age. When we can get the discounts, qualify for Medicare, use our Silver Sneakers deduction. We anticipate retirement and Social Security. Waiting for 65 is a lot like waiting to be sixteen.
When I faced 60 I had a strong sense that I was an awkward thirteen-year-old again. The pushing-sixty angst felt a lot like adolescent angst. From my own experience I can verify that the years from 59 to 65 are just as awkward and confounding as the “tweens.” Below are just a few of the signs and symptoms I experienced as a Tweenior:
- The body simultaneously spreads and shrinks in undesirable ways.
- The hair grays, thins, and grows in annoying places.
- Muscle tone vanishes, as well as the motivation to keep it.
- The granddaughters tell me my teeth are yellow.
- Coordination ebbs, trips and spills increase.
- Aches, pains, and bathroom visits interrupt sleep.
- Bone mass thins, acid reflux rises, and hypertension arrives.
- Age-acquired attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder develops.
- Unanswered questions about the future loom.
- Feelings of inadequacy or irrelevancy grow.
Panel of Experts
An expert panel of PowerAgers convened recently. They provided tips for Tami and other Tweeniors as they navigate those awkward years leading up to 65. Those tips (with minor editing) follow:
“Remain active and positive. A number is that, only a number. I remember my 60th birthday as any other day, except I received a beautiful bouquet of roses from my children. What a positive day. I realized that I have everything and that getting older is nothing.” N. H.
“It’s the best time of your life. Color your gray hair (if you have any). It’s one part of your changing body you can control.” C. M.
“If you go off your diving board after the age of 60, you might need a friend to help hold your boobs, because your other hand will be holding your belly.” S. H.
“At this point in your life, love everybody. But remember, that mentally you can give people rude gestures and politely tell them to *#@% &**, smiling all the while.” M. K.
“I was helping my elderly mom and wanted to be available to my daughter in any way she needed me. In order to be there for them, I needed to be there for myself, first. I filled my time with people and things I enjoyed. It made for a wonderful 65!” K. H.
“Keep looking forward to each year. You’ll be surprised how much wisdom you have gained and be so, so confident that your decisions are the right ones for you. Life is all about you now. It’s your time to live!” C. T.
Coming of Age
It has been my experience that the Tweeniors become a period of self-discovery as well as preparation. Once that phase is navigated, the transition to 65 is almost welcome. You will come out on the other side of the Tweeniors ready to be a full-fledged Senior. By now you will have accepted the physical changes or invested in some kind of reparations. You will have faced decisions regarding finances and health-care. You will have adapted to all the declines in hearing, coordination, or sight with proper assistive devices. You will have found or been adopted by a peer group who will affirm your value. You will know yourself better than you ever have previously. If lucky, you have rediscovered your nine-year-old self. That is the age I have observed reveals ones true character. At 65, that authentic self re-emerges, alive and enthusiastic. If none of that works for you, simply follow what I call Tami’s Motto:
“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, ‘Whoo Hoo, what a ride!!’”