Monday, 10 January 2011

Not for wimps!

Somebody said old age is not for wimps. How right they were; and I must say that the news that one in five of us might live to be over 100 does not thrill me either - it doesn't say what kind of decrepit state we might be in by then.

I prefer not to think of myself as old, but rather - as Stephen Phillips said - mellow, like good wine. There - now I have said that I feel less sorry for myself already!

But, joking apart, I don't think anyone over the age of 65 would have any difficulty at all in making a list of the disadvantages of getting old - eyes, ears, muscles, teeth, balance, memory for starters. All of these begin to weaken as we get older - to varying degrees. But we are stuck with it, aren't we? So let's make the best of it for as long as we can. Many of our friends tend to be in the same age group.
I am lucky in that I have a son who lives very near to me and some of his friends are my friends too so that brings down the average age of my friends at bit.

But amongst my friends one has rheumatoid arthritis, four are in remission from cancer, one is recovering from a stroke, one has a husband with Alzheimer's disease and another has a husband with severe diabetes. All of these are cheerful, interesting people - without exception - getting on with life and finding interesting things to do.

So how heartening to read in today's Times a plus for getting old!!! The University of California has done research which suggests that emotional intelligence peaks in one's early sixties. Old people are more sensitive to the feelings of others (I must say I do know one or two who did not fit into this mould.) People in their sixties become increasingly sympathetic to the feelings of others (ditto last brackets), they are more resilient and more likely to see the positive side of things.

It seems that studies have been done which suggest that old people should not be isolated into special "villages" however much money they have to be able to afford such retirement homes. Francis Bacon studied this area and came to the conclusion that a healthy mix of all ages was the best way to live because "that way the virtues of either correct the defects of both."

But as we now enter the beginning of David Cameron's Big Society I find it hard to relate any of these findings to the austerity to come, much of which seems to centre on the elderly.

Services like free buses, libraries, community centres - all of which are likely to suffer in the cuts to come - are so vital for people who are no longer able to drive, or who are not particularly mobile. Can you imagine living thirty years after becoming fairly housebound? (For this will probably happen in some cases). I have friends who would like to be computer literate and would be willing to pay for tuition at a slow rate - but where are they to get it?

So, end of moan for today.
The temperature is rising here and the snow is disappearing, although there are some icy roads about still. There are heavy dark clouds everywhere and rain and strong winds are forecast - but warmer with it. They even promise temperature up into double figures by the weekend - that almost needs capital letters.

today's aros: crows wheel then perch in the bare ash tree, all facing the same way.

21 comments:

Crafty Green Poet said...

I do worry about the austerity that's going to be forced on us, by a Govermnet that seems intent on making cuts without truly thinking about genuine efficiencies

I like your crows all facing the same way...

jeanette from everton terrace said...

I agree about all ages being together. It is one thing I always loved about being around my family in both England and Ireland, the young and old spend much more time together and actually enjoy each other (at least in my family over there). I think it benefits the young as well as the old and wish we had more of that here in the U.S. People tend to live so far apart here. Sending you some Arizona sunshine!

Helen said...

There is much to be said, all good, about multi-generational living! Great post.

Jules said...

Interesting post, Weaver. It's a worry that bothers me too, I'm only 35 but not allowed to drive due to fibromyalgia. The town I live in has a high percentage of elderly people and the buses and other services are getting fewer and fewer. It's sad, because the older people who are suffering because of this are the very people who've contributed so much to our community in past years. I must admit, life wouldn't be so interesting if it wasn't for the fact that I am computer literate - there are so many interesting and wonderfully inspiring and supportive people here (yourself included!) I love your small stone.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Here we are buried beneath a rare, but gorgeous, snowstorm. I just asked my husband..."are there any older neighbours we should go check on?". Perhaps this is the key ... looking out for one another. Community is an important part of staying healthy, methinks.

As for emotional intelligence expanding with age... that would be nice. I will say that I know some older people who are simply a delight to be around... interested in others, interested in life... in spite of health problems that would seem such an impediment to joy. And then...... I know other elderly ones who don't have a good word to say, although less afflicted than most. I think it depends on the individual. If we look for the bad, we generally find it. If we look for the good, it's surprising how available it is!!

Reader Wil said...

I was surprised that the Polish guests were really interested in my life. They were very respectful. That week when I had my quests I heard first the Polish young people saying that it was amazing that women my age worked on the computer and spoke foreign languages. Lateron, when the two Greek families came to see me, they said the same. The women of the Greek families can speak English fluently, but they are a lot younger than I am. Strange isn't it, that their mothers didn't learn these things.

Hildred and Charles said...

It seems to me that everything is relevant when you get to be ancient, - is your positive attitude a result of good healthÉ Do you moan and complain because the genes you inherited are not supporting you into old ageÉ (my question mark takes on a strange form these days.....) I do agree with the comment about emotional intelligence, and I think that given the right circumstances (not being too absorbed with ones self) there is certainly greater empathy and compassion as you age, - at least I find that I am much more understanding and compromise a lot easier. I miss the dear friends of my younger days who are gone, or who have altzheimers, but find much to interest me in the lives of younger and newer friends. Is it all the luck of the draw.....

MorningAJ said...

I have been virtually housebound during the worst snows because I get near-panic attacks if I try to walk on ice. I prefer to drive in snow. When I can't afford my car any longer I shall be stuck at home. It's quite worrying.

Elizabeth said...

Such an interesting and thoughtful post, Weaver.
Just got back from a grim morning having entirely batty conversations with my demented mother in law aged 89. She is in a nursing home and some of the residents are very sad --but very well cared for. She is very badly behaved and they are saints to put up with her. I only wish I could be there more often.

There is no merit in being 100 if you are babbling and in nappies.


YOU are vigorous and vital -and will be so for many years to come

Yes to the babies and the grannies all in it together --retirement communities perfectly ghastly idea.

Snow storm coming this way tomorrow....

Cloudia said...

Wise comfort, friend!



Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

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Heather said...

It will be very unfair if rural communities suffer more than the rest of us from government cuts. It's as if parliament is hell bent on killing the countryside. It is important for all age-groups to intermix so that our young people grow up with a balanced outlook on life. An added bonus is that the young can help the elderly to become computer literate!

George said...

An interesting post, Pat, one that resonates with all of us "of a certain age." As you point out, there are many things that are beyond our control. On the other hand, we can control our attitude and, to perhaps a lesser extent, our social surroundings. I think it is very important, as Bacon pointed out, to live in cross-generational environments. Each generation has something to offer the others.

steven said...

my sense of david cameron's vision from thousands of miles away is that it is entirely connected to utility. in my life the children and the "seniors" in my life provide the very real fuel and purpose that i have learned to value the most. it is necessary to care in the nurturing and sustaining manner that comes intuitively to most sensitive people. why not view all seniors as a "national treasure". i am so grateful for the wisdom my elderly friends provide. steven

Derrick said...

On the one hand, Cameron's 'Big Society' ought to bring people together as they demonstrate a greater regard for each other's welfare. On the other, the reality may be very different!

Caroline Gill said...

An interesting post, as ever, sparking many thoughts in my head.

My 'times of austerity' concern, Weaver, is also for those with disabilities. You might be interested in this feature here, which had an impact on me. I hate to think of vulnerable people having their lives disrupted.

I entirely agree with you about the fun and fulfilment of 'all ages together'! The peaking of 'emotional intelligence' is an interesting concept - the 'attainment' of it is something to look forward to . . .

Dave King said...

The best thing to be said for old age, I believe, is that it beats the alternative.
Another fascinaing post.

Mary said...

I'm enjoying reading over your posts - found you via blog friend and amazing writer Pamela Terry.

I'm in that age group too, but fortunately still healthy and able to do a lot requiring movement, including international travel. Must admit 100 years is not really what I'm striving for though - that's going to be hard! I do love to share time with all age groups, enjoy hearing memories shared by the elderly, and dreams for the future by the young.

So glad to know you and will be back reading more of your lovely farm life in Yorkshire. I'm from Devon but emigrated to the US many years ago.

Freezing in North Carolina, we too are socked in by icy conditions today - a tough Winter all around!
Here's to an early Spring hopefully.

Mary - A Breath of Fresh Air

The Weaver of Grass said...

Nice to have all ages on my blog list, which more or less fits in with the philosophy of the post. Thanks for the comments.

Totalfeckineejit said...

You can judge a society by how they treat their old.Any cuts affecting the poor, particularly the elderly are morally indefensible.

On the plusside Weaver, you are an inspiration to us all. And it sounds like you are at the peak of your poetry writing chemistry if that report is true. So it's time to start thinking about getting a poetry bus ticket, real soon!

Ps I hope all the cattle TB stuff is ok?

BT said...

It is such a pity that on the whole the elderly don't mix enough with the rest of society. It's how it used to be, especially in villages. Would that we could do it now.
I agree about living to a very ripe old age. I saw a television programme where they interviewed some over 100s. Without exception they were not happy and had had enough of life. How sad that is.

Delaine said...

I just celebrated my 70th birthday we had a great party of family--i I looked forwards to the day and had a great time telling every one of the big day,,,now it is over and I look in the mirror and see more lines and I am huffing and puffing where ever I go my happy attitude is withering 70 is getting older and the joints are complaining maybe a 70 and one month party in the answer--I just think I will celebrate being alive and still upright....