Don’t allow your real age to be defined by a number


Have you ever been defined by your age? Probably, because we all have. But at a certain point — and excuse the pun — it gets old. That’s what retired military aircraft technician, who’s only a baby boomer, Stew Carter thinks when someone tells him, “At your age…”

When I go to see a doctor, a financial representative, a real estate broker, or just about anyone else, the most irritating thing to hear is, “Well, at your age…”

To me this means that I have already been categorized as “not worth the effort.” In school we were always taught that the subject of a sentence or conversation should always come first, except for a few very rare exceptions. So when I seek professional advice and they start with a comment about age, it means that I am not the subject, my age is.

Stew Carter

Stew Carter

I have always been quiet, and the inability to stand up for myself, combined with ageism issues, exacerbates my problem of not being treated as a person but as the number of years I’ve lived. I will single out the medical profession as an example, because the difficulties they have in dealing with the aging population have been in the news of late. But this applies to just about everyone we go to for advice, remedies, and direction.

When you visit a doctor for treatment and the doctor opens with age, you are already lost. A doctor is supposed to treat the patient, not the disease. The disease should be eradicated, or at least minimized, so the patient can carry on with a normal healthy life. Doctors see too many diseases in patients instead of seeing patients with diseases, and with thepublicity that statistics about “diseases of aging” are getting, Boomer patients are being relegated to the third tier -– behind age and the disease itself. More and more diseases of “aging” are being recognized as products of how we treated our bodies in our youth and have nothing to do with our age. They are about how much we drank or smoked or how many times we broke bones or didn’t treat illnesses.

So my appeal is, don’t let numbers get in the way.

Remember this: baseball players with 33% success as hitters make seven- or eight-figure salaries per year. If I had had that success rate as an aircraft technician, I would have been flung out on my ear. Not to mention the bodies that would have been littering the landscape. So when it comes to us, statistics should be driven by our treatments, not our treatments driven by statistics.

Do not be defined by a number.

Do not be defined by a number.

The point is, I am not a percentage. If I am to be just a number, then I will bring my 100 least favorite people with me and we can distribute the diseases appropriately. Thirty will be assigned heart disease, twenty-two to cancer, seven to stroke, four to Alzheimer’s disease, etc. I pity the poor soul who is least liked and has to balance the numbers by taking on diabetes, heart disease, and unintentional injury. But then we can get on with it because I have now balanced the percentages.

The upside would be, now the doctor can diagnose me because all the junk is gone. I should no longer hear about my age. And if I do, I must speak up; either the ageist approach is corrected, or I find a new doctor. The diagnosis can then better serve how much living I have left, not how much I have already done.

I intend to enjoy life for every minute that I have left— not for every minute that Ihave already been here.

©2013 Stew Carter


  1. EXCELLENT! I’m printing out this blog post and taking it with me the next time I go to the doctor. If necessary, I’ll give it to him to set him straight. You expressed my thoughts much better than I ever could have, especially when sitting on an examination table half dressed!

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