Thursday, April 20, 2006

Age and doing things

On a mailing list I am on, a man at seventy was wondering if he wasn't too old to start training. A list member wrote something inspiring, Jocie said:
Just 2 nights ago we saw a little old lady on TV. I think she should be an inspiration to everyone, whatever their age.

She had a heart bypass operation last year, enough to stop most elderly people. But not this lady. She catches public transport and walks considerable distances to get to the hospital where she works (voluntary work). She does the filing (lifting heavy patient files effortlessly!), pushes trolleys full of heavy files from one department in the hospital to another, talks to the patients, cheering them up. All in all, a very physically demanding job.

‘So what!’ you say, lots of people in their 70s do that. But this lady is 104 !!!! and didn’t look a day over 75 !!!

Age is what you make of it. Many new retirees start new businesses, some of them very demanding, physically and mentally. It keeps them young, in heart, mind and body.

It seems to me that you are only as old as you allow yourself to be. If you want to give up and be an old man at 70, then you will be. I knew a man who died at 64 and looked 94. He gave up in his 50’s. Life was too hard for him and it was easier to be an invalid. Another friend (late 70s) has had heart bypass surgery but still manages to put on the best Christmas Lights show in his city, every year, all supported by his hand welded steel frames that he drags up onto his roof every year. It keeps him busy all year and it keeps him young. We all know examples of people at both extremes, those who give up far too early, and those who keep themselves young into very old age.

Without something to do, elderly people feel sorry for themselves and ‘take it easy’. The moment you start taking it easy, you are giving in to age, and you start to age, you start to slow down. This becomes a vicious circle and before you know it, you’ve stopped completely, all because you started slowing down.

So, you have a choice, you can do what you want to do. The secret is to find out what you really want to do, then do it.


Anonymous said...

I agree. I spend much of my work day with senior seniors (those who have been forced by age to slow down). They are losing limbs to diabetes, having to sell their houses and live in retirement or nursing homes, and they deal daily with the loss of friends and the world they knew.

But they come in two broad categories: those who age gracefully, and those who age bitterly. And the bitter are often those who failed to figure out what they wanted out of life until it was too late.

As an aside, I loved your beautiful pictures of Copenhagen, and if I am ever in Europe, I am resolved to go there now. :)

Ontario, Canada

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. I'm 72 and my wife of 47 years is 65. Eight years ago we moved to the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia and bought a sailboat, for the 3rd time in our lives together. Because of the fairly mild climate, much like Lancashire Eolake, we are out most months with including a New Years eve meet in some secluded cove. Most of our friends are 10 to 20 yrs younger because we all share the same love of sailing but that's also true of the oldersters in our on the water sailing club (No clubhouse or politics). The activity and the friendships keep us young in mind and heart as well as healthy.
We now only see some of our old friends rarely because of their ready acceptance of "OLD" age and their apparent willingness, "to GO gentle into that good night" to paraphrase Dylan Thomas.
We'd rather "Rage against the dying of the night" although raging takes too much energy, subtlety is our weapon as we drop the lines and sail away to inconspicuous and secret bays and rejuvenate.

Wonko outside the asylum said...

My Grandmother is 91 years old, and despite a hard life and many health problems, she is still able to look after herself and live an independent life. I think what keeps her going is the thought of attending her Great-Granddaughter's wedding. Seeing as my Neice is seventeen, I think we've a few years to go yet before that happens.

Similarly my Grandfather (my Grandmother's husband - they've been married 68 years) is 89. He again has health problems, many derived from his period of time in captivity as a Prisoner of War in the Far East, building the Burma railroad among other things. He has tropical diseases that they still don't have names for! His main problem is his failing eyesight. A few months ago he had a fall in the nursing home where he now lives, and needed a hip replacement operation. He stunned the medical staff with the swiftness of his recovery, walking better than before the accident within days of the operation.

Neither of them has given in to old age. Certainly in the case of my Grandfather it's because he's too bloody minded to give in, which my Mother maintains is what got him through his time as a POW. Both of them are an inspiration to me, I can only hope that I am as bright and full of life as they are when I am older.

And as the saying goes: "You're as young as the Woman you feel!" ;o)

Tillerman said...

Great post - totaly agree. When I first retired I hung out with other retirees. But now I compete in sailing and running against people half my age and get younger every year.

Anonymous said...

Eolake, I enjoy your blog tremendously; it gives great insight into the kind of person you are. Although we are probably far apart politically, I feel that we could, under better circumstances, be good friends. This blog entry is one example of why. I am 64 years old? young? and can't afford to retire- too many toys to play with! I love the outdoors, and to that end have a Jeep for trail riding and a 4wd ATV for getting way back in the "boonies". Many people tell me it's time to slow down, but I subscribe to the late Malcom Forbes quote "the older you get. the faster you must go, for you have less time..."

Thanks for a great website and a damn fine blog!


Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thank you kindly. :)

Susan Lucente said...

This was a very inspirational posting as were all the comments to it. I am ashamed of myself because I'm only 37 years old but I often say I feel like 80. I don't have any reason to feel that way, I have a very full life, other than some minor aches and pains I have my health, I have a good home, and I have three beautiful children from 9 months to 13 years. I simply do not have time to feel like I am 80 years old. After reading your post, I am resolving to quit saying that I feel that old and even more importantly, to quit *acting* like I feel that old. But then again, judging by the examples I've read here.. maybe 80 isn't an age to dread anymore. :-)

Christopher said...

"The secret is to find out what you really want to do, then do it." This is key, for anyone at any age, where this is possible. Even a general idea of what it is you wish to do with most of your time can serve to organize the events and activities of your life, with a resulting sense of meaning, purpose, and direction for the course of your life.

Anonymous said...

A signature line from an email I received once ...

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ~ WOO HOO what a ride!"