Writer Christopher Matthew, (78), asks – how do you know when you are growing old? He observes that there was a time not so long ago when you knew that you were old. He describes how his father and mother, ‘like countless others of their generation knew instinctively when old age had arrived and behaved appropriately.’ *
But how much was that ‘instinctive acceptance’ generated by their expectations, which in turn sprang from yester-years’ experience? Because today’s older generation are, by and large, healthier and more active than any before them. There are people in their 90s and 100s who are still enjoying their work, with even a handful running races , swimming and doing yoga. Judith Kerr, who writes children’s stories published her most recent book at the age of 94.
The conclusion Mr Matthew reaches is that ‘old age is not necessarily for old people. It is purely for people who suffer from old age.” In other words, if you’re fit and reasonably healthy, then you don’t feel old, so you don’t ‘live old’. Which makes sense, when you think about it.
Although there are a number of people coping with frailties in old age, there are more who are fairly robust. So many churches tell us that the people who are cooking for their cafes, organising their community outreach and so on are well into their retirement.
We’d better shake our feathers, because a recent report by economist John Hawksworth says that, the health of our future economies depend on encouraging older people to stay in the workforce. BMW in Germany has adapted its working environment to suit older people, as well as young.
It’s worth reading Chapter 7 in my new book, which has a list of checkpoints for well-being in old age. They are checks, balances and strategies best put in place now! You can buy the book through our website, www.pilgrimsfriend.org.uk
*Daily Express, 1st December 2017