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THRIVE ‌ Decade by Decade

Thoughts on Aging

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20s FEMALE 20s MALE
“Teeth are important,” says Nandini McCauley, a 29-year-old graphic design and public relations professional for the College of Charleston’s School of the Arts. “My brother is a dentist, and I’ve learned about the importance of flossing and the links to heart disease.” McCauley admits to working out sporadically, but gardens consistently and jogs when she is in the mood. “We can’t prevent the inevitable so I don’t really stress about it,” says McCauley. “I know I’ve got a couple of grey hairs, but my parents look young and I lucked out genetically.” When asked to define the age that she classifies as “old,” McCauley pauses for a moment. “That age seems to get further and further away as I get older. I don’t think of my parents as old, but I do consider my grandparents elderly.” Both McCauley’s parents and in-laws remain active, which she finds inspiring. “They walk every day; they work in the garden. We play basketball or ride on the trails in Summerville and for birthdays, we go kayaking.” —Ida Becker Tree Martschink, a 28-year-old attorney with the Charleston County public defender’s office, takes a Zen approach to wellness and aging. “My hope is that I’m only going to grow more distinguished,” he says. Martschink makes it to the gym twice a week, plays ultimate Frisbee throughout the year, and will soon join a basketball league for attorneys. “I don’t need nor do I want the body of an Olympic swimmer,” says Martschink, “but I want to be in reasonable shape to do what I want to do.”
Martschink admits he has to make a conscious effort to exercise, an effort that wasn’t necessary at a younger age, and he thinks there’s a difference between growing old and growing older. “The attainment of the age of 70 — what condition will you be in when you get there?” he asks. “Can you do a significant amount of the things you did at age 40? 30?” Martschink says a large part of the aging process is mental rather than physical. “I don’t fear growing old at all,” he says. “The midlife crisis that every male seems to have? That’s a fear of a wasted life. I’m happy with the direction my life is moving.” —Ida Becker
30s FEMALE 30s MALE
“The first time I noticed my crow’s feet,” says Suzanne Gannon, “I caught their reflection in the rear-view mirror as I was driving. I nearly went off the road.” Gannon, a 34-year-old yoga instructor, relies on anti-aging facials from Glow Spa in Mt. Pleasant and better skin care habits as her frontline for defense against the signs of aging. “I also started wearing sunscreen for the first time in my life this past summer,” says Gannon. “I do not intend to just allow myself to shrivel — I’m fighting it, literally, to the death.”
Gannon practices yoga three times a week and takes Kempo Karate classes three to four times a week. “I define wellness in my life as feeling good physically, emotionally, and spiritually,” she says. “If one is out of whack, they all feel out of whack.
“The worst thing about getting old isn’t even the outward signs, the ones other people can really see,” she says, it’s the inner signs like back and knee problems that indicate a body is aging. “Yoga helps that a lot.” Gannon says she feels better now than 10 years ago. Although she isn’t able to pinpoint a specific age by which she would consider someone old, a 69-year-old male client who is discovering yoga as a way to confront his increasing lack of flexibility inspires her. “The great thing about getting older,” says Gannon, “is having so much more confidence in myself, in my own skin, in my own head.” —Ida Becker
Brian King is a 38-year-old veterinarian who recently bought the hospital where he has worked for 12 years. His active lifestyle, wife, and two young daughters help keep him young. Although King does think about aging, his biggest fears center around his health, not his looks. “I’m not trying to fight aging or graying,” he says, “and I don’t fear growing up.” He worries about debilitating mental or physical disease. “I don’t want to lose touch with people, or suffer through a painful, long, drawn-out disease process.”
King says that although he does feel some signs of aging physically, his main focus is to keep his brain and attitude in check. “I think that your mind grows with your body and adapts with each new period in life,” he explains. “People that fight aging have a harder time with it.”
Yoga and good nutrition are both part of King’s ways of staying healthy, but he does have a “secret” to living a full life: living each day simply. “I try not to live too much in the past or the future; your health or your life can be taken at any time.” —Julie Hallman
40s FEMALE 40s MALE
DeDe Dunlap is a 47-year-old vibrant and active mother and grandmother. Her other accomplishments include starting a business with her ex-husband and owning another business herself. One way she stays healthy is by “stimulating” her brain. Dunlap is doing that by embarking on a new career. However, like most, she does concern herself with aging, inside and out.
Dunlap wards off the effects of aging by leading a healthy lifestyle. “I work out, don’t smoke, stay active, and eat well,” she says. “My biggest superficial worry is how long I’m going to be able to wear my bikini,” she laughs. “Every year, I think, ‘Should I buy a swimsuit that looks older?’” A more important fear for her, she says, “is that I’ll lose my strength and won’t be able to run around and have fun with my children and grandchildren. I know that eventually there will be a time that I can’t be as active as I am now.”
Although she admits these fears, DeDe believes that ultimately, aging is “a wonderful thing.” She claims that as she has gotten older she has become more calm, understanding, rational, and patient. “As you get older, your mind settles, and you become more at peace with yourself; who you are and what you look like.”
Dunlap plans to stay young by continuing to learn and stay active. An admitted “sucker for anti-wrinkle creams,” she hopes people will continue to mistake her face and her attitude for that of a much younger woman. —Julie Hallman
At 41, Herbert L. Drayton III thinks and feels as though he is in the prime of his life. A single father of two, Drayton works out at 5:30 a.m. four days a week. “My workout partner, Dr. Barry Weissglass, is my main motivation,” says Drayton. The two met at a gym 15 years ago and three gyms later, their training partnership is still going strong. Drayton’s morning routine consists mostly of free weights; his max bench press is 330 pounds. Exercise tips often come from magazines like Men’s Health, and all workouts are recorded in an archival journal.
At 170 pounds and nine percent body fat, Drayton is not only in shape, but leading an active lifestyle. He rollerblades on the weekends and plays league softball. He also meets with his mentor Jim Ferguson to discuss professional development. “I read something on one of the business sites that asked, ‘Is 40 the new 30?’ And that’s really how I feel,” Drayton says. “I feel as though I am 30.” Drayton’s desire to stave off the aging process led him to become a certified trainer 10 years ago. Today, he helps people, including his girlfriend, with personalized workouts, which provides a good balance to his demanding role as chief operational officer for the Charleston Medical Arts Center and Carolina Center for Occupational Health. “I really think if you eat properly and exercise,” says Drayton, “there is a natural retarding of the aging process.” With a good-natured laugh, Drayton explains that he is a realist when it comes to his own aging. “I have male pattern baldness. I didn’t want to end up as this old, fat, bald guy,” he says. “I am now bald by design, but by no means am I fat!” —Ida Becker
50s FEMALE 50s MALE
Linda Dunning, 53, has a family with a history of heart disease. Her father died at age 69 from a heart attack and her mother has high cholesterol. “I’m trying to keep that at bay with aerobics,” she says. “I use an elliptical trainer, a treadmill and some weights, and I underwent hypnosis to lose weight. I’ve cut down on my biking and walking, though.” Dunning has been a widow for three years and for her, that’s the toughest part of the aging process. “I have to do things alone now. I am dating a little bit, though.” —Nick Smith Dennis Molesky, 54, has found that the secret of feeling young is not to worry about getting old. “I live for today,” he says. “The past and the future don’t concern me. The only thing I worry about is my eyes — they’ve always been bad but now it’s getting real tough. Besides that, I eat and drink what I want and I do what I want. I feel just as good at this age as I felt at 30.” Molesky attributes this to variety in life, experiencing anything and everything whenever possible. “I keep on the go, but I gained two pounds in the last four years — I don’t usually gain weight at all. But I don’t
let it bother me. I don’t sit still, I’m no couch potato.” —Nick Smith
60s FEMALE 60s MALE
Judy Bennett, 63, sees the aging process as a positive experience, enjoying an increased amount of leisure time. “Nobody wants to look older,” she says. “The outwardly physical, visual aspects of getting old bother everybody. But balance is one of the first things that goes — I need to work on that even though I’ve danced all my life. At our age, you have to keep yourself moving, stay healthy and be the best that you can be. Then you’ll realize that every age has its advantages.” —Nick Smith Julius “Shorty” Frazier, 66, keeps trim by walking around a school track every morning. “When I worked I did lots of standing,” he says, “but I did a lot of exercise too. Farm and warehouse work helped keep me where I’m at now physically and I never drank or smoked, that made a big difference. These days I keep movin’, I eat good and I go to bed, sleep for eight hours.” Frazier successfully endured radiation treatment to tackle his problem prostate. “I didn’t worry about it, I just left it to the Lord. I’m thankful to see 66 at all.” —Nick Smith
70s MALE 80s MALE
Tom Anessi, 71, was brought up during the Depression, which has affected his attitude toward health. “There was a fear of not being able to survive that hasn’t been experienced since,” he says. “I’ve always felt the need to work and stay healthy.” He walks his dog for long distances, but doesn’t believe in anything too strenuous. “I’ve always thought you should only exercise when you feel like it; the body will tell you when to stop.” His time in the military helped him to develop an exercise regimen, “but I never really tried to hide the signs of aging. A few fellas want to maintain a youth and vigor look — others like to let themselves go because they can do that at their age. They wear looser clothing and they don’t bother hiding the belly. It’s just not that important any more.” —Nick Smith Dick Barbour, 83, goes to exercise classes four times a week. “I only do Dancercize once a week cause it about kills me,” he admits. “Afterwards, everyone looks like they’ve been through the car wash, they’re sweating. I didn’t start exercising till I was 78, on my doctor’s advice. I wish I’d started sooner. I’ve started watching what I eat, but the clock’s always ticking and that’s the worst part about getting on.” —Nick Smith

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