What’s your definition of “old”?

Last week, Mom’s cleaning lady told us about a 90-year-old woman whose daughter’s house she also cleans.

This spunky senior, despite not being able to scrub her back in the tub, manages quite well on her own.

She even puts on her lipstick every day.

“You’re kidding,” I said. “You mean we still have to wear makeup at 90?”

That got me to thinking.

What’s wrong with getting gussied-up as we age? What’s wrong with wanting to present our best self to the world?

It seems to me that designers and manufacturers should capitalize on an aging population, rather than ignore them and hope they’ll go quietly away.

Take clothing, for example.

My mom is tiny. Under five feet tall.

But even “Petite” sizes engulf her. The arms are too long; so are the pant legs.

“Junior” sizes might fit, but she’s NOT a junior and doesn’t want to show as much skin as young girls do.

She refuses to wear “old lady” clothes — you know, knit pants with elastic waistbands and sweatshirts emblazoned with “Grandma” on the chest.

Sewing gives her a headache.

She’s gotten smaller, and she’s not alone. People typically lose 0.4 inches every 10 years after age 40; shrinkage is faster (1 to 3 inches) after age 70.

What are their options for looking fashionable without looking silly?

Another area of concern is graying hair.

I’ve read that going gray depends on your genetic makeup. Fully half of us are 50% gray by age 50!

Some women prefer going gray naturally. Others, like Mom and her sisters, refuse.

No silver. No white.

No “blue” or “pink,” either.

Mom used to buy the home hair color systems at Wal-Mart or the drugstore. She’d mix them up, apply, wait, then shampoo and rinse. And she’d be good to go for the next six weeks.

But she’s been having shoulder issues lately, so she’s taken her hair to the salon professionals.

Who should know what they’re doing.

Yet they can’t get the color right. Really dark hair looks freakish on an older person; likewise, reddish highlights don’t flatter Mom’s Italian skin tones.

I’ve heard it said that aging isn’t for the faint of heart. But couldn’t we do more to make it easier?

After all, we’ll all be “old” one day, if we’re lucky.

As for that spunky 90-year-old woman, my hat’s off to her.

I don’t call it vanity for her to put on lipstick every day.

Perhaps she simply wants to look and feel her best.

Or maybe it’s just a habit.

I hope that when I reach 90, if my lips don’t prune up and I can see my mouth, I’ll still want to put on lipstick!