Mother Needs to Slow Down
"My mother does not act her age. She is 65 years old and is still doing things that only young people do. For instance, she has a bucket list that includes skydiving, surfing, skiing, mountain climbing, and other rigorous activities that are very dangerous. She has quite the cavalier attitude about almost everything. She has not always been this way. In fact, when she was married to my father, she was rather conservative. Now, I do not know who she is. I also question if she has the money for all of the travel and activities she is planning. How do I tell her to act her age without offense?"
It sounds to me like your mother has a little bit of freedom now, so she is going to pursue the activities she has always wanted to do. There is a large part of me that is cheering her on.
You see, for many healthy 65-year-olds, the idea of being a senior may sound very foreign to them. There is 65, and then there is 65. There are individuals who move and operate at 65 as if they are ready at any moment for a wheelchair and nursing home-level activities. Perhaps they have a disability or have lost management of their weight and the concept of exercise. There is also the flipside of 65, where you have an active and engaged individual who will think you a bit daffy if you suggest he or she slow down even the least bit. Your mother sounds like she is in the latter group.
I believe your mother should enjoy this time in her life and engage in the activities that she sees fit to try. Yes, it is important for her to condition her body if she is going to pursue extreme activities. For this, I recommend professional instruction that is geared to her age because those bones, joints, and muscles have been in use for 65 years. She needs to be just a bit cautious about injury if she wants to continue with her active lifestyle. That being said, let her have some fun!
When it comes to money, I see no reason to avoid talking with your mother about retirement planning. Start by sharing your personal plan and ask her to weigh-in. Then ask her to share her plan with you. Simple reciprocation. You can even work on each other's plans together. This way each of you can make the necessary changes to meet your goals. You may be pleasantly surprised that your mother has it figured out, and perhaps she may find that she needs to continue working to realize her plans.
All in all, I believe you should encourage your mother to be as active as she is able. Age does not completely define you, nor should it.
I wish you the best.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
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