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CARMICHAEL: Denial can be easy, but should be avoided as we age

The Nile is indisputably the longest river in the world. It originates in Africa and flows for more than 4,100 miles through Egypt and into the Mediterranean Sea.

While a journey down the Nile can certainly be arduous, it’s not nearly as daunting as the path many of the Geri-Antic generation choose to tread every single day.

I’m talking about persistent denial.

For those of us over 60, denial begins in the morning as soon as we open our eyes.

We wake up, stumble out of bed and deny that the snap, crackle and popping sounds we hear are nothing more than those emanating from the big blue box of breakfast cereal on our kitchen table.

We totter to the bathroom and deny that the image we see as we pass by the mirror is our own. We still envision the vigorous, youthful face that has smiled back at us since our youth.

Back at the breakfast table, we deny that we’re consuming an entire pot of coffee or tea for the caffeine kick-start it provides our rusty internal engine. Oh no. We just love its warmth and flavor.

And the prune juice? Why, that’s just for the vitamins it provides. Denial.

It’s so hard to face the fact that, while most of us can still match wits intellectually (and often win in a battle of wits with those decades younger than ourselves), we deny that we’re beginning to slow down and unable to keep pace with our active grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Denial in some ways motivates us to keep going. Not accepting our limitations keeps us striving to maintain our health.

We get routine physicals. We stay active by going to the gym or exercising at home. Some walk, run or bicycle. We watch our diet and take supplements to ensure we get necessary vitamins and minerals.

But sometimes, despite our most valiant efforts, our bodies betray us and we’re faced with illnesses attributed primarily to the aging process or other environmental factors.

Joints are subject to arthritic maladies Bones become brittle and a mere bump or tumble can cause a break. The endocrine system decides that it can no longer process insulin efficiently and we succumb to Type 2 diabetes.

So, we deny that we can no longer count on our body to keep us functioning as it once did.

But to delay treatment and take action only worsens the affronts of aging. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we must stop denying and begin accepting.

The good news is, no matter the reality of the image in the mirror, we can still find the beauty within us.

Nothing can stop us from thinking young.

Even when our bodies begin to betray us, there’s still a spark within each of us that is just waiting to be fanned into a flame.

Think back on a time when you were passionate about something. Did you enjoy writing or painting? Take a class online.

Do you love nature, but find it difficult to physically be outdoors? How about purchasing some books on wildlife and asking someone to set up feeders so you can view visiting animals from your window.

Did you love cooking for your family, but perhaps the joy of cooking waned when your family left home? If your family still lives nearby, they’d probably be thrilled to have individual dishes cooked and conveniently packaged for them to freeze and warm up on nights when they’re too tired to prepare something. Or how about sharing your recipes online or doing videos to teach novices?

Many of us have found being lumped into the at-risk category of the COVID pandemic a bitter pill to swallow. But, once again, denying the facts and ignoring the warnings only serves to put us and those we care about at greater risk.

There are so many ways to stay home and stay safe and yet stay active and vital.

Denial is a path we should avoid. Aging is merely a part of our journey, but it’s our choice as to the roads that we take that bring us happiness.