Unless you're aiming to look like Dolly Parton or Elizabeth Taylor, going under the knife and piling on the beauty products aren't the answers to aging gracefully.
The old adage beauty is only skin deep is especially true as people pass the half-century mark.
A book aimed at seniors called "Wrinkles, Waistlines and Wet Pants" by Jeanne R. Kraus delves into all the unpleasant side effects of aging. The book is riddled with tales of how Kraus has dealt with aging so far. (She turned 60 this year.)
(Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich) Maggie Smith drinks her morning coffee in the Steelers-themed man cave she and her husband enjoy in their Hollidaysburg home, Smith, 68, believes in accepting the changes age brings and spends time volunteering.
(Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich) Lois Nale of Geeseytown spends a winter’s day crocheting. At 86, she said she can no longer get down on the floor and play with great-grandchildren, but has fun with them by throwing a Frisbee.
She readily admits to passing gas while teaching a group of elementary school students, and even wetting herself when she coughs, sneezes or laughs.
Once Kraus hit 50, she realized fighting the physical aging process was fruitless.
Looking at her sagging image in the mirror, she said she resembled a tinker toy. Instead of caking on makeup or undergoing Botox injections like her friends, Kraus decided to accept her flaws and become content with herself.
"I figure I am who I am and that's who I'm going to be," said Kraus, who is an author of two children's books and a reading specialist at an elementary school in Florida.
"The kind of people that really sometimes bother me are the ones who have a negative outlook on life and I set out to change them. I think everything is the way it's meant to be. I am who I am and I really do care about people. I'm just trying to make a difference."
Kraus' mentality is a healthy way to deal with growing older, said Dr. Joseph Antonowicz, who is board-certified in geriatric psychiatry and medical director for behavioral health for Altoona Regional Health System.
"We don't stay 20 forever. All the things she writes about are quite true," Antonowicz said.
"Some people do battle with it. Just a trip to the shopping mall will tell you that. There are people who apply makeup with a trowel to fill in the cracks, while others just roll with it. Some women and some men color their hair, while others don't care. The battle against aging is taken pretty seriously."
Maggie Smith, 68, of Hollidaysburg has a positive outlook on life, but that doesn't mean she's content to let aging get the best of her.
"I know I'm going down, but I'm going down fighting," said Smith, president of the local AARP chapter. "When you quit caring about yourself and how you look, you're going down."
The thing that bothers Smith the most is not being able to physically do things she once loved, like skiing and skydiving, or just reaching the high shelves in her kitchen.
"You just physically can't do things like you used to," Smith said.
Lois Nale, 86 of Geeseytown feels the same way. She still cooks and cleans the house, although she has help from her son and daughter. "I don't like not being able to do the things that I did at one time," Nale said.
Wrinkles don't worry Nale because she said she doesn't have too many, which she attributes to not wearing a lot of makeup. What bothers her is not being able to get around as well as she did when she was younger.
"I have 20 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren. With my oldest ones, I could get down on the floor and play with them. I have one now who is 6 and I just can't do it. I can get out in the yard and throw Frisbees, but I just can't get down on the ground and play," Nale said.
"By age 35, most people have peaked; after that, things start to fall apart," Antonowicz said.
Skin and body parts start to droop and sag. Men usually develop central obesity and women get plumper in the hips. Then come the wrinkles and age spots, which can be blamed on deteriorating cells.
"On a cellular level, things really do start changing. The process really seems to accelerate as you get into the late 60s," Antonowicz said. Age 40 to 55 isn't as dramatic as 55 to 70.
"You're fighting an uphill battle," Antonowicz said.
While people can battle aging with every anti-aging weapon possible, they will never win.
"Aging is not some catastrophe that's overtaking you," Antonowicz said. Though most people peak physically between 30 and 35, there is much more to accomplish intellectually, emotionally and spiritually, Antonowicz said.
Development of the mind never ends and people are constantly adapting to internal and external environments, so they may be learning more and changing their perspectives every day.
"If the older adult pauses for a moment and thinks about how they think, they don't think the same way they did in their 20s. They're a whole lot smarter. I would never go back to my 20s. I was a fool," Antonowicz said.
Smith agrees. She thinks people should never give up trying to accomplish something. Smith volunteers with AseraCare Hospice by visiting residents at Golden Living Hillview Nursing Home in Altoona.
"Either you're raising kids or you have a career or you're a newlywed and you're setting up your house. Then, you don't have any of that going on, so you volunteer. You give something back," Smith said.
In her later years, Nale has learned to appreciate the little things in life, like watching the snow fall or seeing the leaves change or taking care of her flowers in the summer.
"I enjoy hearing the frogs and toads croaking the first thing in the spring, the things like that. The older you get the less time you get to enjoy them," Nale said.