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I'm 70 and use the wick. You can do it.
desoldering iron to see which one I am most comfortable with.
I did see a post about the Chem-Wik Lite braid that sounded promising as well.
I've never had much luck with a pump. Tried several, and had the same issues you've noted. I'm not yet 70, and still couldn't make them work. :)
The wick has always worked best for me, but getting the right wick is imperative. This is one of those "you get what you pay for" situations, and the cheap stuff just doesn't work. The Chem-Wik brand (Chemtronics) works extremely well (best I've used), so keep on that path even though it's quite a bit pricier than some others.
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