We see her every day -- the wrinkled skin, the silver hair, the labored walk. She is one of the nearly 3.5 million women ages 85 or older.
What if you could get behind those thick lenses, and truly understand a day in her life?
For one day I traveled through time, leaving behind my 45-year-old face, body and life to become an 85-year-old woman with the help of special Hollywood makeup and a high-tech suit that simulates the aches and pains of old age and arthritis.
Although struggling in the shoes of an 85-year-old woman gave me a better appreciation of the day-to-day hardships, it was my trip to an independent senior community near New York City that really opened my eyes and touched my heart.
I told the group that I was doing a social experiment, so the women knew I wasn't actually their age. As we began to talk, something magical happened -- they invited me to share one of their weekly traditions, happy hour.
Suddenly I felt like one of the "Golden Girls," hanging out with Helen Winters, 80; Suzanne Warshofsky, 86; Ada McNair, 93; and Gertrude Mussman, 90.
They all met at the community center and had come to share their lives together.
Warshofsky's spirit was infectious; her zest for life, an inspiration.
"We all only learn what living is when we reach a point where our lifestyle changes so this will enable one to prepare themselves for the eventuality of time," Warshofsky said. "And this is what I became a widow last year. I was married 65½ years. I have a home in Florida, and I'm here with lovely people. We're civilized. I'm going out tonight. I'm going out tomorrow. I'm going out the next day. I was invited. They like my personality so I'm in the hit parade!"
In that moment, my makeup and mask vanished, their age and wrinkles vanished. It felt like a real connection that bridged the 40 years and many differences between us.
I now know a few of their golden secrets. … Celebrate often, laugh at your fragilities, live in the moment, and find love in everyone.