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.
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. “The NHS is being swamped with ill, old people “…the dreaded bed blocking. From the NHS and Social Services viewpoint it seems a tidal wave. Because of course at the sharp end you see the worst. And the worst is what gets the publicity.
Having reached 80 it dawned. The media was wrong: 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.
Research was showing that, for the majority, later years were happy years. Many, including me, were happier than we had ever been. The majority of older people are out there living full, active lives. It is the small minority who are in trouble.
Why wasnt this Happy stage of life being recognised? Could it be that these busy active people are invisible in some way?
The generations paths dont cross much. Older people tend to be out and about during the week, when the rest of us are working. But head into a National Park on a weekday and the grey haired rambling or birdwatching groups are there, on all the paths!
Once you get your eye in and look around and they are everywhere, 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!
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 maybe adopt this:
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.
You are the ideal spokesperson for us Oldies, Joyce. Long may you continue accentuating the positive.
Wonderful! I’m so glad you posted this—gives me a boost this dreary January day! I have followed your blog for a while now, and am glad that you DO exhibit a positive, optimistic attitude! Accentuating the negative does nothing for us olders, as you know. I intend to re-post this to my Facebook and Twitter contacts today. Everyone should read and benefit!
Well I’m not even fully retired yet but I do agree that being older gives us more time, less stress, and it is like a new lease on life. We can do all the things we’ve never had the time to do.
It is a proven fact that the more we stay engaged and interested in life, the better our health. So the key is to make new and younger friends, even as some of our more senior lifetime friends and relatives begin to pass away. And to stay active and think about the things we can do rather than those we can’t.
There are so many more avenues to achieve these goals now, than there were in the past, so becoming lonely and isolated is something we ourselves can take steps to avoid in our early retirement.
When it comes to poverty, there are definitely places in the world where being old is no picnic but even there, older people benefit by helping each other and adopting a positive attitude.