I’m absolutely terrified of ageing and willing to admit it

Has it really been fifty years since The Who first sang “Hope I die before I get old”? Once upon

Has it really been fifty years since The Who first sang “Hope I die before I get old”? Once upon a time, when my youth was something to be taken for granted and squandered, that was my mantra. And today, I’m not sure anything’s changed.

The problem is, I can’t actually see myself as being “old”. I can’t imagine being unable to get out of a chair or do my own grocery shopping. I can’t imagine being the 93-year-old woman who has lost all her friends and has to rely on her great grandchildren and an old copy of Woman’s Day  to keep herself entertained.

Our generation was the first to reject the idea that ageing was inevitable and we’re doing our darnedest to prove we’re right as baby boomers approach 70. From age-defying potions, lotions and injections, to improved nutrition and fitness, we simply refuse to go quietly.

When I’m reading to my grandkids and a little old lady with grey hair in a bun pops up, they never associate her with their Grandma.

And why would they? She’s hunched over in a chair with her blankie on her knee, while their Grandma is learning to ride a motorbike and planning a trip to to India.

As I plan for these grand adventures, I sometimes feel the weariness of age creep up and a tiny part of my brain thinks, “Can I be bothered with all this?”

Immediately the noisier, bossier voice says, “Of course you can – you’re not dead yet!”

Truth be told, I’m terrified of the prospect of not being able to do what I want, and it’s got nothing to do with ticking items off a “bucket list” , and everything to do with the gnawing fear that if I don’t do it all now, I might not be able to tomorrow.

Some people fear ageing because they are worried about losing their looks. To be honest, I couldn’t give two hoots about my face – I have the fortunate perspective of rarely seeing it unless I choose to.

A woman in the UK has made the papers over there for refusing medical treatment for cancer because she doesn’t want to die old and ugly (never mind the impact on her children, this is clearly all about her). It’s not the exterior shell I fear, but that feeling that your body won’t do what it’s told – or worse, your mind.

Loneliness is a another great concern. If I do cling on, who’s to say anyone else will? What if everyone I love, even my children shuffle off before me, lacking the stubbornness of this old stalwart?

I truly hope that, like an Energiser bunny I will keep on keeping on for a long time and then someone will take the batteries out so there’s no wind-down. Better still, give me some reusable batteries, please!

Did previous generations fear growing old the way we do? Did they go gentle into that good night; did they fear gaining a moustache and losing their continence? Or was it accepted that thus was the circle of life?

We boomers are lucky to have lived through a mostly charmed period, with no world wars and staggering medical advances. Is it any wonder we’re not willing to let go?

How do you feel about getting old? Do you fear it or accept it?

  1. Yay Catherine! I have a very close friend who is terrified of ageing. She is compensating by wearing her hair bright-cherry-red and dressing like a New York Fashionista.
    When we are out she always gets someone complimenting her on how beautiful she looks and people smiling as we pass.
    Good for her!
    I prefer not to be so ‘out there’, but yes, losing my looks is not my favourite thing. I just make the most of what I have.

  2. I completely understand Catherine. I too don’t care much about the wrinkles but I do care that I wont be able to do for myself or think for myself. I often wonder what will become of me and who will care. I want my time with my children and future grandchildren and i can see that not happening. Yes Catherine, i understand completely.

  3. Yes, Fran I agree, more concerned about internal than external aging! Within reason external earns you a bitv respect, internal aging is just damn unpleasant!

  4. While not thrilled about some of the side effects of ageing, I am reminded of the very wise words of a young woman who knew she wasn’t going to make old bones. “People talk about getting old as if it’s a bad thing.”

    Getting old is a privilege. Lots of perfectly lovely people don’t make it.

    • exactly, I had a few friends who died in their 20’s, I look back and they were so young, I am sure they would have swapped with us xoxo

    • Very true Rob. That old parody is true too: we all want to reach a ripe old age but none of us wants to get old. A few wrinkles don’t bother me at all; I am just grateful to be still alive and kicking after having two lots of cancer.

    • When you see so many very young children so very sick. I think l’ve had my life, they don’t deserve to be sick and dieing

  5. All I can say is this being old is better than being dead, you will be dead for a very very long time, make the most of being alive while we can, and aging doesn’t impress me much either but I don’t have another option to take 🙂

  6. At 63 this is definitely not an issue that worries me. I am enjoying my life. I do not care that I have greying hair or that a few wrinkles decorate my face. I see people dying, I see people with debilitating mental and physical conditions and I am grateful that I am ok. What the future holds I do not know but I have plans. On the other hand maybe I am simply too young to understand such things.

  7. Dianne Evans  

    I am so happy too be alive and no one likes to think they can not do things but often we can do things a different way. We are so fortunate too live in a time when if you can no longer drive a car or walk far you can get powered wheel chairs or scooters I will if that time comes keep zipping along . We have more time as we live longer so just gather the good times while you can. My outer shell can do what it likes so long as it keeps working!

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