News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

June 23, 2014

MS. TAKES: Words no one wants to hear: ‘At your age’

TERRE HAUTE — The other evening, a friend limped into the dining room. Judging from the grimace, she was in some degree of pain, so I asked if she had fallen.

“No,” she replied. “What I really need is a hip replacement, but the doctor said ‘at your age you would probably find the adjustment and therapy and rehab more trouble than learning to live with it.’”

However true that may be, the next-to-the-last thing those of us of “mature years” need to hear is a comment about aging. It seemed to have hurt more than the pain her hip was giving her.

I know I gave up the use of a primping mirror some time ago. I don’t really want to observe the signs. I really need a mirror to be sure — first thing in the morning — that I am not afflicted with what my grandsons call “a bed head,” but I no longer primp. I take it as a given that being up and around is about as good as it’s going to get for that day.

I remember how Mom hated having her picture taken. Well, so do I. In Mom’s case she reasoned that she wanted people to be agreeably surprised when they saw her in person. She did not take a flattering picture.

My Best Friend and I have devised a little subterfuge about aging — we reverse the numbers. So, when we turned the dreaded 50, we regressed to being 05. The problem with that is that your age increases by 10 years instead of only one annually. By our system, flawed quite obviously, at age 51 we were 15.

The system rather falls apart when the second number is higher than the first. I have no idea of how to figure it in case we live to be 100 years old. Would a 001 put us at prenatal?

In addition, the system doesn’t do us a lot of good when the numbers are the same. What can you do with 55, for example, or 99?

So, I felt for my friend who is following the advice of her doctor and refraining from any hip replacement surgery. I’m not sure that it would hurt worse than his comment — “at your age.”

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star education reporter. Her column has appeared on this page for more than 25 years. Send email to


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