I recently read a news article entitled Bucket Lists Gone Bad.…the author proceeded to give examples of “when senior ‘thrills’ become life threatening.” As a leading 50+ expert, I would suggest that this alarmist piece managed to completely marginalize anyone over 50 who might be attempting to do anything that’s considered physically challenging or risk-taking.
The article cites an 80-year-old woman who barely survived a tandem skydiving attempt and a 50-year-old man who crashed a motorcycle in the dealership parking lot having had no previous experience riding a bike. Of course these types of accidents can happen, but there’s no reason for anyone over 50 to swear off bucket lists filled with adrenaline-pumping activities – at any age we have to measure the potential consequences of our actions! I went skydiving forever ago – on my 25th birthday – and I can promise you my heart was pounding just as hard as any octogenarians would have been!
In fact, I find the whole notion that age should be considered a severely “limiting factor” when attempting risky activities quite disturbing. Sure, if you have any health conditions check in with your doctor first – you might be a risk taker but you’re not stupid! Aspirations and goals are what make the second half of life empowering – if you don’t fulfill them what’s the point of dreaming in the first place? This whole risk-averse concept goes against my 30 Bonus Years way of thinking – I firmly believe the second half of life is a chance to explore every possible outlet one can imagine!
The woman who almost died skydiving and the man who crashed the motorcycle were either not properly trained for the tasks or there was faulty equipment. Or perhaps they were just too damn scared and not in “the moment” – if you’re going to do it take it seriously. The article quotes the emergency room physician who treated the wannabe motorcyclist as saying, “If you’re going to build a bucket list don’t fill it with 18 different versions of Russian Roulette.” Motorcycles are dangerous…..regardless of what year you were born….over 4000 people die in motorcycle accidents each year – it’s clearly not the safest activity – at any age!
The article did a nice job of homogenizing the entire 50+ generation and, in my humble opinion, by attaching such broad generalizations the author managed to suck the fun out of aging – or living – by singling out isolated incidents. If you want to ride a motorcycle, take a course from your local motorcycle safety course. Take time to learn the ins-and-outs of a motorcycle and join the legions of 50+ safe bikers that have a blast riding on a regular basis!
The article also quotes an AARP employee who warns about the dangers of running a marathon or competing in a Tough Mudder obstacle course race. Even a 22-year-old fitness buff can get injured doing extreme sports. So train properly, read about the best training techniques and join a group with a good coach or leader. And like anyone else, build the necessary strength and endurance your body needs to handle the rigors of the challenge.
Having worked for over two decades with both spry and sloth-like mature adults here’s my advice – PLEASE don’t tear up that bucket list – you just have to be even more studied in your approach. Be patient. Stretching and recovery cannot be skipped. In other words, prepare properly and pay attention to any old injuries that might come into play. Obey the cliché: Listen to your body. When in doubt, take it easy.
Knowing your own limits and true aspirations is also important. Don’t add motorcycle riding to your bucket list if you’ve never really wanted to go fast on two wheels. It’s just as admirable to become an expert chess player, try your hand at standup comedy or join an online dating site if you’re single (that’s probably the riskiest of all!!!).
Bucket lists should be a reflection of your personality. So if you’ve always been a competitive endurance athlete, by all means try to qualify for the Ironman triathlon and train hard for it. Don’t let someone tell you it’s impossible at your age – or at any age! We simply don’t have to be relegated to the sidelines just because we’ve had our 50th birthday – get up and “go for the glory” golden edgers!
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