Are You Old?

Are You Old?

Around the Bluhmin’ Town


Judy Bluhm

Are you old? Not meaning to be nosey, but just wondering. I was recently asked this question by an inquisitive child who was curious why I didn’t want to climb up a jungle gym at a park. “Well, I could be old,” I replied. The young girl then said very seriously, “Yes, that’s when all the fun stops. My grandmother told me this. And she also said that old age comes real fast.” Then the little girl skipped away.

Out of the mouth of babes? I mean I was just minding my own business when the entire concept of age, aging and old age came to the forefront. I thought I might do some research by asking my grown grandsons if they thought I was old. One answered, “Of course, you’re my grandma.” Another (more diplomatic) grandson said, “It’s possible, but I guess I never think about you as old.” Ha! Exactly. Just because I didn’t want to step up on a kids’ dangerous climbing apparatus doesn’t classify me as elderly.

Baby Boomers total about 16 percent of America’s population with 56 million strong. By 2030, an estimated 20 percent of Americans will be at retirement age and in 2034 it is predicted seniors will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. Evidently, in the future we won’t need as many playgrounds, but more pickleball courts.

Could a “graying” America create problems? Well, most of our communities were built around the young and mobile. Millions of homes have primary bedrooms on the second floor, yards to take care of, mailboxes a stroll away, and entire neighborhoods designed where simple errands require driving.

A Havard report claims that less than one percent of housing units in America have accessible features like wide doorways, no-step entries, walk-in showers and lowered light switches. In other words, we have built a world for the young and active! It seems we are headed for one huge clash between housing stock, community designs and aging demographics.

As folks get older, “downsizing” is a word I hear often. It might make sense, but it is easier said than done. Transitioning to a smaller place can be rough, since we have collected things that we love over the course of our lives. Sure, it’s only “stuff,” but the tea-set that great-grandma brought over from England has meaning. So does the piano that was the center of family gatherings. Things are not easy to give up. And our kids don’t seem interested in our old books, china, antiques or mementos. That “stuff” that we have accumulated carries a treasure trove of memories. Yep, downsizing is just one of the many challenges of aging.

Is age just a number? Maybe. And if we are lucky, our numbers keep adding up. My neighbor’s five-year-old grandson told him that “It must be good to get old.” The child went on to say, “You get to do whatever you want, and can eat plenty of ice cream.”

Dear Readers, do not be afraid of growing old! Enjoy your “stuff,” eat the ice cream, grab the pickleball paddle and just avoid the jungle gym.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a realtor. Contact Judy at [email protected] or visit

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