Grandma answers a challenge:
“Why don’t you write about the lonely, sad old people out there?
“Why are you making out everything is rosy?
” Do you understand poverty, ill health and loneliness?”
OK.….! Let’s get that last question dealt with. Briefly, yes, I think I do, from personal experience. See below*
Now for the other two.
When I was working the NHS was being increasingly swamped with ill, old people …the dreaded bed blocking. From the NHS and Social Services viewpoint it seemed a tidal wave. And it still does. Because of course at the sharp end you see the worst. And the worst is what gets the publicity.
In the midst of that chaos, it is easy to be unaware that the majority of older people are out there living full, active lives. When you are young they are a sort of invisible background aren’t they? …..The odd dodderer on the crossing, your Nan and Grandad, and the nice old lady over the road …
Having reached 80 it dawned: almost all the older people I had been meeting over the previous 10 years were fit..(well fittish give or take a new hip, a cataract op, and a hearing aid), happy and enjoying very busy lives.
Older people tend to be out and about during the working week, and the generations paths dont cross much. But head into a National Park on a weekday and the grey haired rambling or birdwatching groups are there, on all the paths!
Get your eye in and look around and there they are too, on allotments, volunteering in charity shops, working part time as taxi drivers, baby sitting grandchildren, reading with school kids or at dance and yoga classes. Just happily living. Millions of them!
It is a small minority we are seeing in hospital and care; those who are in trouble.
Yet if you look at the media and read the Charity’s appeals, you would believe that all later years were ones of doom and gloom, that old age was a period to dread.
And it wasnt true! Research was showing that, for the majority, later years were happy years. Many, including me, were happier than we had ever been.
But it wasn’t being said!
At all ages we are continually bombarded with negative messages.
“Fight off OldAge. Grief at wrinkles. Lonely Oldies. Miserable images abound. Only youth and beauty is of value. Later years are a rapid downhill slide into decrepitude. Warnings of dire consequences if you don’t run a half marathon every week. ”
It certainly does not help anyone to create this sense of dread, does it? It is scary for younger people, demoralising for older people themselves and creates an unnecessary them/us division in society.
No one was saying how pleasant life is at 70+. Truly pleasant.
Something to look forward to! But how could they? They didn’t know..You don’t know until you get there. It is a lovely surprise.
Maybe, I thought, it needs an 80 year old to say it?
And when I discovered blogging at 80 it rapidly became obvious…here is the perfect medium! I can tell the world about living that great period of life, LaterYears.
Two additional thoughts for you, not mine, but key to what these blogs have been about:
First a quotation from Ashton Applewhite http://amp.bradenton.com/news/local/health-care/article184415363.html?__twitter_impression=true
Dismal expectations can become self-fulfilling as people start experiencing changes associated with growing older — aching knees or problems with hearing, for instance. If a person has internalized negative stereotypes, his or her confidence may be eroded, stress responses activated, motivation diminished (”I’m old, and it’s too late to change things”) and sense of efficacy (”I can do that”) impaired.
Health often suffers as a result, according to studies showing that older adults who hold negative stereotypes tend to walk slowly, experience memory problems and recover less fully from a fall or fracture, among other ramifications. By contrast, seniors whose view of aging is primarily positive live 7.5 years longer than other seniors
Second “The Anthem for Later Years ” from Johnny Mercer & The Pied Pipers
Ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive
E-lim-i-nate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between
No, don’t mess with Mr. In-Between
You got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
And have faith, or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene.
*Grew up in a mining village in a rented house on war time rations. Made a life mistake and was a homeless single Mum at 30. Married the love of my life at 42. He died of cancer two years later. Lived alone for 30 years and worked as a Physio so dealt first hand with the many problems of later years.