Today’s blog came about after a friend on FaceBook wrote complaining of the usual aches and pains of old age, especially as her 65th birthday was that day. One of her friends commented that at her age it was going to be downhill all the way from now on.
When I read his comment I knew what he meant, but the more I read that sentence I came up with a totally different interpretation and left her a comment that she should be more positive and think of the future as “Downhill all the Way” as though she was riding a bicycle and from now on is going to be freewheeling downhill all the way. Wheee! Lift your feet off the pedals, and go!
The landmark age when you become eligible to collect your pension certainly doesn’t have to mean that you suddenly become decrepit or senile. The Government doesn’t even call it an old age pension or even a retirement pension. It’s the State Pension now, more political correctness!
We are now being told that 60 is the new 40 and that 60 is now middle-aged. What it is telling us that improved medical science has meant that we are living longer and we are aware that sensible eating is vital. Certainly with life expectancy being so advanced those things have changed. 100 years ago a person of 60 would have been considered very old and 200 years ago 60 would probably have meant that you were dead.
In the past years we hear how each decade makes the population younger – 40 is the new 20, 50 the new 30 and 60 the new 40 – At this rate aging sounds exciting. Truthfully aging can be difficult on all levels, emotionally, physically and spiritually. It’s how we work these categories that will make the difference between feeling 40 and feeling 60.
Truthfully old age is a state of mind and there is no doubt that people who have a younger outlook are healthier in old age. People who consider themselves frail are more likely to abandon activities which can keep them healthy in old age, such as taking regular exercise and others with a positive attitude can remain socially active and healthy and enjoy a greater quality of life despite having equal or greater levels of physical weakness.
A recent study found among people whose ages ranged from 66 to 98 whom had varying levels of physical health – some who lived independently and other who were under some sort or care. Participants were asked about their experience of aging and frailty, to determine how their attitude could affect their health and quality of life.
Most participants even those in poor physical shape, maintained that they were still in good condition, with one commenting “If people think they are old and frail they will act like they are old and frail”. There were two people who took part in the study who did consider themselves frail and their outlook had led them to withdraw from socialising and exercise even though they were physically stronger than others in the study.
So that’s the answer isn’t it? Age is a state of mind! Well from experience I can assure that although that is a great help, its medical advances are probably the greatest help in keeping old buggers ticking over. It is paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to the majority but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.
My own outlook on life is that old age starts 15 years from now! I am old enough to have served on an armed merchantman in the Korean War and to have damaged my hearing in an underwater explosion when clearing the wrecks of ships sunk by Colonel Nasser (spit) in the Suez Conflict. I’ve shot people and been shot at and came out unscathed (physically that is), mentally my brain has given me a death wish by taking part in dangerous sports and pursuits from white water canoeing, ocean racing, rock climbing and surfing and I still participate in anything that I think I physically can!
Medical science over the years has given me carbon fibre pins in my medial and cruciate ligaments in my left leg, prosthetic stainless steel joints in both knees and two replacement thumb joints. I took my new knees up Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons to do the ‘Fan Dance’ without using a walking stick or even hiking poles, just to prove that I could. Early this year I walked the Watkin Path up Snowden until I got out of breath somewhere beyond the Gladstone Rock. Two months ago I went to Perranporth to go surfing. I discovered that I can no longer stand up on a board because of my dodgy knees but I enjoyed a bit of belly boarding. I was knackered after half an hour and found the water too cold for these old bones.
In about three weeks time my son is throwing me a party which is called “I can’t believe he’s eighty” which is very kind of him. He was born in 1961 so I suppose that makes him only the new 35. Do you know I’ve never heard anyone say that 80 is the new anything – just 80 so I suppose I shall keep celebrating that it’s Downhill All the Way! Wheee – here I come no brakes – Wheee!
Thanks for listening; I’ll see you again next week! If I’m spared…