‘We need to change our ideas about ageing and what it means to be over 60’

May 13, 2019
Who defines 'old'? Source: Getty Images

I’m over 60. In fact, I’m 66. Some think of me as ‘over the hill’, while others (I’m sure) would like me to be under the ground. Personally, I’m doing just fine. I’m single and live with my little cavoodle, Scarlet. I won’t go on about her, because I always do, but she does keep me sane. I am not the unhealthiest 60-something I know, but perhaps not the healthiest.

For me reaching 60 was a quiet affair and not something I had given much thought to before it arrived. I woke one morning, looked in the mirror and 60 was looking back at me. I wasn’t worried. Now six years have passed and time seems to go faster so sometimes I get agitated, but one thing is for sure, I’m not going to let time get the better of me.

At 66, I am slightly overweight and have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). COPD is a very debilitating disease if you let it be. I don’t.

There are several things I feel we need to do for ourselves as we grow older, notice I say older not old. The first is not to fight it. If we are lucky, it will happen to us all. Go with the flow, I say. Then, we need to take good care of ourselves. Several years ago I was in hospital to have a hip replacement (did I mention I have shocking bones?) and some of the nurses seemed to think I must have forgotten my medication when I left home. Why? Because all I took was blood pressure pills (did I mention I had high blood pressure?) and puffers for the COPD. One of the nurses even looked amazed that I still drove myself everywhere. I was 63 then.

I was offended as they treated me like I had become useless as I aged. Not all the nurses, only a few. Anyway, back to looking after ourselves. I have a wonderful doctor who listens when I read out my list of ‘things to ask the doctor’ when I go to see her. This year was my bi-annual ‘get everything checked’ year. Recently I got the results. I found out my cholesterol won’t kill me, my heart (did I mention I had a little heart valve problem?) had stabilised and I don’t have anything wrong that can be tested with a urine sample. Lucky me. I had a Prolia (for the bones) and super flu injection. They took but 30 minutes from my day.

I’ve also learned I can still politely but firmly put someone in their place if they think my age means they can talk down to me (did I mention that some customer service leaves a lot to be desired?). That is another thing we need to do for ourselves — learn there are times you need to put you first. Don’t let anyone put you down. Don’t let anyone talk down to you, tell you what to wear (did I mention I still wear denim skirts just above my knee?), what you should do at ‘your age’ or how you should act.

For me being over 60 and single, there are certainly ups and downs. My body wearies and wrinkles. I live alone, but that doesn’t mean I’m always lonely — I’m not. I put my wellbeing first and take advice from my doctor and give her some too. I exercise, I use my brain as often as I can to the best of its ability and I have been known to study since turning 60.

Life for me at 66 is not sensational, but it’s a good life. I am not willing to sit down and die because someone tells me there’s no cure for something, or I’m old. What is old? Who defines old? Life for me could be much worse. I plan on being here a long time — if only to make the government admit we are not invisible.

What’s life like for your in your 60s and beyond? What things do you feel over-60s need to be doing for themselves?

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