The Joys and Challenges of Ageing (2)

The Joys and Challenges of Ageing (2)

Our attitudes about ageing are quaint. I remember being with a mother and her child and I asked the child how old she was. The mother quickly said “six” to which the little girl said “six and three quarters”. I said to that mother “that extra three quarters is important”. Children want to think of themselves as a bit more mature. Similarly, I remember seeing a quote from Bob Hope saying he’s rather die at 100 than 99 and I’m reasonably sure he did.

I suspect a lot of men, and I’ll be one of them next year, God willing, who have joined the ‘OBE’ club, have a degree of humorous pride about it. I will because I don’t know of anyone on Dad’s side who got there. My Mum and her two sisters did, and her father and his father both got to 95.

There are a lot of things trying to stop us from ageing such as faster and more powerful vehicles that need the required knowledge to control. I acquired my Dad’s ‘heavier right foot’ and because I went most places in his car, I had a Sunday morning circuit around Donvale that I let the cobwebs out of my Datsun 1600. Thinking back, I’m sure God kept me alive for some reason.

Then there is food. We’re told regularly on the evening news and current affairs programmes that we’re eating too much of the wrong foods. Yet, according to other experts, our average age has increased 20-25 years in the last 60 years. This is despite the common health problems that claim most of us – heart troubles, strokes, diabetes and various cancers.

Another challenge of ageing is technology. I thank the editors of MUC Magazine that they accept these handwritten submissions because every time it even crosses my mind to get a computer, my friends tell me of technical procedural problems they have, or hours on the phone talking to an organisation such as Telstra, a bank, a utilities provider, an insurance company or Centrelink. Then there are scammers whose tricks older people have to be aware of.

Circumstantially caused depression can be another real challenge. Retrenchment and the subsequent difficulty of re-employment because
“you’re too old”
“we need to employ younger people”
“we need to downsize” (so the CEO can be paid an obscene salary?)
“your kind of skills are no longer required”.
The feeling of uselessness and loss of identification with the occupation of decades of your working life can lead to a lethal loss of hope. Similarly, I imagine that the young people who have no employment aspirations and/or education to back them up are the ones most likely to finish up in trouble with the police and possibly commit suicide in custody.

Most of the foregoing has been negative, but most of us who live longest look for the joys in life and there are so many.

I’m not a gardener of any sort but those that are, rejoice in planting something that will be beautiful to their eyes or to their stomachs.

Some retired people do so many activities at home and in clubs, U3A and sports they wonder how they had time to go to work. Lots of people enjoy going on cruises. Bush Church Aid, an Anglican Church Society has its grey nomads help out in far-flung churches or on stations of cattle and sheep owners.

In conclusion, an aunt of mine once said, “you can be happy or sad so you might as well be happy”.