Age is just a number – and Dr. Frieda Birnbaum certainly isn’t counting. She had twins at the age of 60. At 65 she reinvented herself and launched a career as a media psychologist. At 70 she’s about to release her third book, Shattering the Mold, about stepping outside of the box, and is planning a reality TV show with her 10-year-old twins.
Birnbaum defies the norm and is on a mission to redefine age. Old stereotypes – and stereotypes about the old – need to die, now. “Middle age no longer represents us. Middle age sounds like you are going downhill. I call it peak age.” She is anti anti-aging, a pro-aging champion in a crazy anti-aging fixated society.
“Life began for me at 60 as very exciting. I wanted to do more than ever.” That’s an understatement. The world went nuts when she gave birth to Josh and Jarrett. She had traveled to a clinic in South Africa for invitro, where age wasn’t an issue for doctors.
Ten years later “I am running after my twins, cleaning my house, on international radio and TV shows. I am interviewing women for my sizzle reel to pitch to producers for a TV show on powerful women. I am excited for what lies ahead.
“Am I super women? No. Just doing what I want to do.”
Her message for other women: Life is long enough to get everything in. Passion is the fountain of youth. “More and more women are coming out of the closet to speak about age – it’s our last frontier,” says Birnbaum, mother of five, one she had at 53 years of age. Birnbaum and her husband Ken first became parents 44 years ago. “Today, women are tiptoeing into having children in their 50s, not always telling the truth about their age.”
Is 60 is the new 40? “Ten years ago 60 was looked on as old. Look around you and you will see women in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond living vibrantly. Age is not defined by numbers. You define the age!” says Birnbaum, of drfrieda.com and author of Life Begins at 60: A New View on Motherhood, Marriage, and Reinventing Ourselves.
Instead of retiring women are reinventing themselves. “Grandma is no longer sitting in a rocking chair – she is exercising and traveling. Life is a dress rehearsal and you can have a second chance.”
Dr. Andrea Brandt recommends mindful aging: You don’t deny the negatives of growing older, but you don’t ruminate or blow them out of proportion either. “Instead, you turn your attention to the benefits of aging – and there are many. We shortchange ourselves when we put limitations on what we think we can accomplish as older people.” And we waste years of our lives by doing what others expect us to do instead of what would bring us joy.
Stereotypes are incredibly damaging to people who are aging – which is everyone, says Brandt, a psychotherapist at abrandtherapy.com. She’s sees a lot of older women fall into the trap of spending their time and energy trying to undo aging. “You could spend the rest of your life and all your resources trying to look younger, or you could enjoy the benefits of growing older.”
Mark Twain once said “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” So stop minding. A Yale University study shows that thinking positively about aging can buy us an extra 7.5 years over individuals with negative biases.
Joy and passion have no expiry date. “Make decisions based on what would bring you joy and remove ‘I’m too old’ from your vocabulary,” adds Brandt, author of Mindful Aging: Embracing Your Life After 50 to Find Fulfillment, Purpose and Joy.
Celebrities over 60 are proving that you can look and feel fabulous in your 60s and well beyond! At 66, Jane Seymour is beyond gorgeous, and there’s Christie Brinkley at 63. At 71, Goldie Hawn’s still got it, so too does 71-year-old Susan Sarandon. Suzanne Somers is 70 and Meryl Streep is 68. And Lynda Carter is a wonder woman at 66.
That we age is inevitable. How we age is up to us, says Dr. Andrea Brandt. Take her tips for Mindful Aging:
– Rethink what aging looks like. If your dream is to travel, go travel. If you love your job and don’t want to retire, don’t! If you’re missing working, find a way to keep doing the parts of your job you loved by volunteering, teaching, or mentoring.
– Socialize as much as you can. Aging can quickly turn into a lonely experience once we don’t have a job to go to every day and our children have lives of their own. Seek out new friends – join a group fitness class designed for older adults.
– Don’t neglect physical fitness. You need your body to accomplish your goals. Exercise, especially weight training, is essential to mindful aging. Fitness, when you’re older, is about feeling strong and healthy, improving bone density, and giving you the energy you need to follow your passion.
– Rekindle the spark in a romantic relationship or find a new partner. You’re never too old to fall in love or back in love. Sex and romance don’t have to end when you hit menopause or andropause.
– Accept that someday you will die. Living in fear keeps us from making plans for our future and what happens to our family after we’re gone. There are groups you can join to talk about mortality. Talking about the thing you fear takes away its power over you.