When possible try to get yourself into a less physical job description as you age. It’s rare to make it to retirement doing an extremely physical job like carpentry, welding and stocking shelves. Do you know people who do? Sure. But I know more who can’t. Have a plan. Start working toward that plan when you’re forty-five, not when you’re sixty and have arthritis in your knees and a rotator cuff tear.
I’m going to suggest that you not play two rounds of golf, or start using the golf cart and discontinue walking the course.
I’m going to tell others to change their tennis serve and start playing doubles.
Some of you fifty year-olds are going to have to stop playing pick-up basketball with the twenty year olds…
Some of you are going to have to wear a brace or take anti-inflammatories.
It’s just a fact of life, and having some peace with that process will go a long way. But we live in a world of go-go-go. We see a story regarding that octogenarian who completes the Boston Marathon, but the thousands who couldn’t do it don’t make the news. You see a seventy year-old playing tennis, but you don’t see all the fifty-five year-olds having total knee replacements because of injuries they sustained in college.
You see a college football player get back on the field a month after knee surgery, so you assume your fifty year-old knee will have the same outcome following knee arthroscopy. I want to be Dr. Yes, but it’s better for both of us if I talk about your expectations and how I might have something else in mind. Of course no posse will come arrest you if you return to running five miles three days a week and playing pick-up basketball twice a week and then doubles tennis on the weekends.
Trust me. It’s a lot easier to be Dr. Yes.
Now Dr. No might get you out of some chores as well. To be honest with you, a lot of people enjoy doing chores; like feeding horses or working in the garden. A lot of people have no choice but to do chores; vacuuming, dusting and mowing the lawn. And there are chores and there are chores. There are also choices regarding chores.
There’s no guarantee in life that you are going to be able to lift 80lb. bags of feed for cattle and horses for the rest of your life. Really. NO guarantees. And after I’ve done rotator cuff surgery on someone, they tell me all they want is to be able to do is go back to feeding their horses. They won’t listen to options. Get smaller bags. Get help. Disabilities can make the difference between living independently at a ranch and simply having to move in to town or get help with those heavy chores. Folks don’t want to hear this.
The less overhead lifting and reaching you do, the better. At forty you should just start bringing heavy things you lift on a regular and repetitive basis, down to lower shelves. Especially when it just doesn’t matter. Why not put large milk cartons and heavy pitchers on lower shelves in your refrigerator. Who cares? Your shoulders and elbows do.
As you age, bring stuff you use regularly to mid-level cabinets. Store the stuff you rarely use in the high and low cabinets. Then use a step stool when you need it. Or get someone younger to help you retrieve the items for the occasional use. Your knees, back and shoulders will thank you for that!