Growing Old Vs. Growing Up

Wrinkles, wisdom…and sex that’s better than ever!

Are you grown-up but don’t feel old? Does the image in your mirror look like your parents? Does your butt sag? Does your outside image feel out of kilter with how you feel inside? Do you as a grandparent have sex? Surrounded by a youth-oriented culture, we may consider the whole question of growing up vs. growing old befuddling at times, especially the issues around sex. According to statistics, many more grands are busy “doing it” than their children and society at large want to believe.

Children of all ages, even grown-up ones, still seem prone to the “yuck” factor when they think of their parents or otherwise elders making love. At what age do grownups have to grow up? Since we are living longer than ever before in U.S. history, we are pioneers forging new paths and definitions about what it means to be “grown-up.” We may be grown-up, but most of us are no longer old in the ways associated with those generations who’ve preceded us. We’ve earned our wrinkles and wisdom and we possess our own semi secret: For many in our generation sex is better than ever. Grownup, YES! Old in the traditional sense, NO!

There is a difference between growing up and growing old. 60 is not the new 40, 70 is not the new 50, 80 is not the new 60, etc. We are precisely the age we are, only in a new way. Do we really want the acne, identity crisis and awkwardness of youth all over again? Haven’t we already done that? We are a new definition of active elders, precisely our chronological age, but for the first time in history we are busy with encore careers, still having sex and continually breaking the stereotype and stultifying definitions of “old.” These are our Bonus Years, and we have so much livin’ and lovin’ to offer.

With more than 78 million baby boomers emerging into the latter years of their lives, soon those of us over 50 will be the majority of the population. Thus, it is no surprise that we see Gran Lucy dressing any way she wishes and Granddad Luke attired like a retired ballplayer. Are you a Granny who doesn’t wear granny panties or a Grandpa insisting on driving his own cool automobile? Or, perhaps you are mentoring others or newly pursuing a lifelong dream? Join the crowd.

You are part of our new generation leading those who will follow into new possibilities. Yes, we may have a few more aches and getting out of bed may take a bit more time, but gray hair or dyed, wrinkles proudly worn or a bit of Botox here or there, we are grown-ups in the process of redefining what it is to grow old.

I’m in my late 60s. I’ve been married, divorced, a single working mom and remarried, and along the way I’ve become Mom and Grand Mom to my thoroughly modern “tribe” comprised of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious extended family of children, stepchildren and grandchildren spread throughout the country.

I love my work, travel, have endless curiosity and interests, keep fit with yoga and Pilates, try to eat well, and, yes, my husband and I still have sex. Old? The years continue to add up, but old the way my parents and grandparents were at the same age? Not me. Nor are you. Neither are any of us dancing our way down the backside of the hill.

Dr. Dorree Lynn is a Georgetown-based psychologist and life coach committed to helping people have better relationships & fulfilling sex lives. She has appeared on Good Morning America, MSNBC, CNN, PBS and other major programming. She is the author of Sex for Grownups. You can follow Dr. Lynn and ask questions on her website, DrDorreeLynn.com.

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