Bad Girl, Good Business

Route 66 installment #4: moaning & whining

Reading 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. 

In fact, AARP reminds us of the health conditions that may hit us after 50. 

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.

In fact, complaining about your health is actually bad for your health!

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?

  1. Limit the health moaning to conversations with close friends, family, physicians, and other people who really care.
  2. Stay active and take care of your body (starting at an early age) so you don’t fall apart (literally).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

BGGB.OkeyDokey-fred Aging & health: myth versus reality
BGGB_ShakingHands Conversation starters that don’t begin with gastrointestinal issues
BGGB_Thumbs-Down-fred Even health care providers can discriminate against older patients
BGGB_Pointer When to reveal chronic health issues when dating






  1. Preach! Great post Nancy! My biggest pet peeve around this is graphic photos of wounds, injuries etc. on social media. TMI

  2. Pat

    Well said. I wholeheartedly agree.

  3. LOVE THIS! Thank god someone finally said it. Thank you!

  4. This resonated with me. When I was a teenager, I remember listening to my grandma kvetching about her various ailment, what foods gave her gas (pretty much everything), and all of that, and said I would never do that. Well, I’ve caught myself a few times. And I think that there are some things that need to be talked about, but only to a willing audience!

  5. My goodness, the level of sharing is astounding sometimes. TMI on steroids.


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