Route 66 installment #4: moaning & whiningReading Time: 3 minutes
I don’t want to hear the details of your hip replacement, your mucus color or your hot flashes.
That doesn’t make me cold and unfeeling.
If you’re a part of my life, I will send you flowers and meals and good wishes for rapid healing on Facebook. My friends have gone through some heavy stuff — cancer, accidents, deaths of loved ones.
But, unless you are a close personal friend, listening to you kvetch about your aches and pains or trips to the doctor is a sure-fire tune-out for me these days.
Of course, I’ve had my own share of health issues. Most recently, I broke my ankle. I also had shoulder surgery last year, which I doubt most of you even knew about. And you’re more than welcome to guess at the nature of my missing and “bionic” body parts, although I won’t be publicly revealing them.
That’s because aches and pains as a primary conversation topic can:
- Bore, stress out, or repel others
- Fuel stereotypes of older people as weak and slow
Of course, as we age, our bodies start to fail us.
But that doesn’t mean that your Bumble dates, random acquaintances, and the Uber driver all want to hear about your brittle bones, high blood sugar, sleep disturbances, or other facts of life at our stage.
The media is also fueling a perception of aging adults as “falling apart.” The new SATC series is merciless about Steve’s hearing loss and uses it as an ongoing joke. Advertisers often portray older people as tech-dense, slow, and tortured by a wide range of health ailments.
So, what can we do?
- Limit the health moaning to conversations with close friends, family, physicians, and other people who really care.
- Stay active and take care of your body (starting at an early age) so you don’t fall apart (literally).
- When you’re facing health issues, get quality care and play an active role in healing. Mental health can also have a huge impact on your physical health. Get professional help if you’re lonely, lost, at a major crossroads, depressed, or in other psychological pain.
- Speak up — kindly and gently — when someone drones on and on about their arthritis, incontinence, acid reflux, or other condition. This applies to both older and younger adults. Be empathetic but set time limits and smoothly change the topic. If you are the kvetcher (rather than the kvetchee), think about other topics you can talk about. Read a book, take up a new hobby, volunteer, or binge a current Netflix series. See the article below on how to start a conversation. Pay attention to body language and learn to switch topics or listeners when you get a sign that your time is up.
- Call out ageism when we see it. Be a stereotype buster and role model.
No matter how old you are, no one really loves a chronic whiner.
And remember…what’s going on inside your body, in your bedroom, or on the toilet may not ultimately be entertaining to others.
|Aging & health: myth versus reality|
|Conversation starters that don’t begin with gastrointestinal issues|
|Even health care providers can discriminate against older patients|
|When to reveal chronic health issues when dating|