This idea is catching on. The media are waking up!
Below is one of the first blogs I did. The message doesn’t change!
It was inspired by that great American song
🎼🎼🎼🎼 “Eliminate the Negative. Hang on to the Affirmative”
I had decided to write about the often unsaid and ignored positives of life in later years. It attracted some comments.
“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. ”
Fear Of Ageing rules!
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.
Well said. It is all about “attitude”. Positive attitude – we feel good about ourselves and the position good or bad that we are in. Negative attitude – you could be doing great but the negative attitude will defeat everything you have good going for you. Smile – be happy – that is my motto. thanks for sharing your viewpoints. I agree whole-heartedly. I can remember back to when I was a child and thought I died and went to heaven when I was able to scoop up a piece of ice that fell off the back of the ice wagon that used to deliver us ice so we could keep our food cold (way before current refrigerator models hit the scene) or a Saturday morning when we would walk 13 city blocks to purchase $.50 worth of ‘day old baked goods’ just chompin at the bit to get home so we could sink our teeth in that day old sweet. Today’s generation just isn’t hip! Okay, I will stop rambling on now. 🙂
Just found you via The Frugal Fashion Shopper’s blog and oh how I agree with you. At 78 and living alone, I have never been so happy. I have to be careful with money but I have no worries, am able to pursue new interests and am thoroughly content with life. May I recommend joining the U3A? This organisation has transformed me and has led to my taking up new hobbies e.g. singing, watercolour painting, tai chi, Nordic walking and more and has led to my making many new friends. I have no family living now in this country but I am never lonely and life is very much for living!
Great article, Joyce. Of course I agree wholeheartedly. 80+ is as interesting and exciting as any other age. New adventures, new expectations and a measure of serenity make for the possibility of positive attitude which of course becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Thanks for the reinforcement.
As Brigitte Bardot said ‘age is only a number’. I think she’s 82-ish. She is standing in the European Elections for animal rights.
What a great piece! I am “only 58,” but it’s all relative and I am as old as I have ever been, ha ha. I don’t expect to just lay down and die in 10 or 20 or 30 years but…financially, unless there is a miracle, life will be challenging for me and I predict I will never be able to retire fully. And I know others like me, who, due to LIFE, face a lifetime of working and never fully retiring and “WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I PSYCHICALLY CAN’T DO IT ANYMORE” and that is *not* such a pretty picture. So, not to be the voice of doom and gloom, but there *are* both sides…and I’m not even on a BAD bad side…it just doesn’t look as rosy as it could.
I read about you on The Frugal Fashion Shopper’s blog and will definitely be back 🙂
Joyce, I’m 67 and live in Kansas. I am retired from the U.S. Postal Service. I just thought I’d add a comment here because I have been enjoying listening to Paul McCartney’s CD called “Kisses on the Bottom” and the song you quote from above is on that CD. I love it because the whole CD is great, calming and has a certain intimate quality to listen to which makes it great to listen to as I face traffic while I drive. It is so hard to “eliminate the negative” today- prices rise, health concerns can bankrupt you here, and it seems young people now want to retire at 35, work from home, have virtual relationships, live through social media. They pretty much look down their noses at those of us they consider OLD and INVISIBLE and “laughable” for working until our 60’s or so. Women are old at 40, Older at 50, transparent at 60 and above. The fact that you take such a positive approach to ageing and see it from a new overlooked perspective, is very encouraging and refreshing. So congratulations, keep up the great work, and if you are a Paul McCartney fan….be sure to listen to this song on his CD- he is another person who seems to have overcome ageing and can still sing a beautiful song!!
O agree that life can be much happier in our older years. Especially when we stay independent. I have time now to pursue my passions, and it’s great. Love this blog.