Ageing with attitude: Redefining what ageing looks like

Dorrie Jacobson is 81 years old and doesn’t believe in ‘measuring’ life in decades, says Margaret Jennings.

Ageing with attitude: Redefining what ageing looks like

DREADING those big birthdays as you age?

Dorrie Jacobson doesn’t believe in “measuring” life in decades, because then you are likely to “get stuck” and end up questioning your capabilities.

“You start thinking, ‘wait, am I too old to give that a try?’ That kind of thinking just gets in the way, so my suggestion is to lose it,” she says.

“I hate the way magazines say ‘by 50 you should do this’, and ‘by 60 you should do that’.

"It’s ageist nonsense and it places too much emphasis on the influence that our age has over the way we live our lives.”

She’s perfectly entitled to hold those views with over eight decades clocked up herself — if you’re counting — and a growing online social media presence from her home in Las Vegas, appealing to older women, called SeniorStyleBible.

Eight decades? You may well do a double-take on this picture of 81-year-old Jacobson.

Her youthful attitude and style can be seen in her body posture alone — a confidence that undoubtedly comes from being a former Playboy Bunny back in the day.

She has got some help in the physical ageing department she admits, having had a facelift once, 30 years ago.

“I was a very enthusiastic sun worshipper for most of my life and that sun exposure wreaked a great deal of havoc on my skin.

"They did a great job and I never felt the need to indulge in any more cosmetic surgery after that, although I do use Botox and injectables to keep away the fine lines and sagging that comes with being alive for 80 plus years.”

Jacobson strongly believes a woman shouldn’t be judged, if she chooses surgical enhancement, but it’s only part of the ageing story: “In my opinion the best way to ‘age well’ is to build a life that you love and to continue to focus on doing the things that excite you,” she says.

When she celebrated her 80th birthday in September 2014 and her partner, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, was placed in an assisted living facility, she decided she needed change.

With the help of her 50-year-old daughter Jodi she launched her website: “I decided I wanted to do something to fight back against ageist attitudes and to redefine what modern ageing should look like.”

Though she may be ignoring the decade-counting, she does realise that “it takes an extreme example” to sell this hard anti-ageist message.

“So if I can stand up as an 81-year-old woman and say ‘Look, here I am in stylish clothes and high heels out there creating my dream job, dating and having sex, so don’t let age prevent you from taking a few risks and being the best version of yourself that you can be’, that message carries a certain weight because in your 80s, everything in life is a challenge and you have to want it to make it happen.”

Part of making it happen is her attitude towards change, which she admits is difficult for most people, but is essential for growth.

“You can’t shy away from it or you wither and die emotionally and intellectually. The moment we stop growing as human beings we get old, and that’s not an option for me.

“When I turned 80 and my partner developed Alzheimer’s and had to be placed into the care facility, that was a turning point for me because I found myself at a crossroads wondering what to do with the rest of my life.

“I suddenly found myself single, with a lot of time on my hands and no direction.

"After a chat with my daughter, about using my life experience to inspire other women to embrace their potential later in life, I felt like I was starting a new chapter, and I wanted to share that journey with other women, so that it would seem less frightening.

“Starting over at any age is a challenge, but starting over at 80, is pretty unheard of.

"Fortunately I like a challenge. So I bought a pretty new Mac and some computer lessons, and went about the task of learning something new.

"When I started my website, I didn’t even know what a blog was, let alone how to use social media. Now I have 20,000 followers between Facebook and Instagram.”

Running the website — between fashion shoots and writing, has now become a fulltime job: “I feel many of these people who follow have become friends where we chat about fashion, beauty, dating and senior sexuality.

"We share our thoughts, ideas, and experiences and it’s become this wonderful community of women who support one another. It’s pretty incredible.”

With three marriages and a varied career behind her she says we all face challenges in life, but it’s how we choose to view and use those experiences that makes the difference.

“We can learn from failure or adversity, or we can let it stop us in our tracks. It’s a choice.

"And the moment we realise that we can overcome almost any obstacle if we want to badly enough, then nothing can stop us from living well and being happy.”

Prostate cancer


Looking for another good reason to get exercising? A man’s chances of surviving prostate cancer may be increased if he has been physically active regularly prior to his diagnosis.

That’s according to an American Cancer Society study which followed more than 10,000 participants, aged 50 to 93 and found men with the highest levels of exercise before their diagnosis were 30% less likely to die of their prostate cancer than those who exercised the least.

Exercising even more vigorously after diagnosis was seen to increase the odds of survival by 34%, compared to those who did the least.

Living for longer


New Aging: Live Smarter Now to Live Better Forever, Matthias Hollwich, €12.63

It’s easy to slip into our older years without giving any consideration to how we might need to adjust our needs in our homes.

This book is written by an American architect who was asked a decade ago to work on a nursing home and afterwards personally explored the whole concept of alternatives to how we age.

He uses colourful illustrations and practical design tips to suggest how we can creatively change our habits and environments as we age.

We are told that Hollwich invites us to take everything we associate with ageing — “the loss of freedom and vitality, the cold and sterile nursing homes and, the boredom and throw it out the window”.


How you can grow new brain cells


“Life is too short to live on low-fat everything"

— Actress Kristen Scott Thomas

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