Where are you on the ageing spectrum? 22



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We make presentations and run workshops for many seniors groups about changing the mindset of ageing. Our intention is to implore seniors to embrace this time of life as an opportunity to do new things. Occasionally we get some fascinating comments from the audience.

We often like to do the rocking chair test in which we have people visualise how they see their life as they scan back through the years. The response to this can be quite varied. One woman who was in her mid 70s said, “I can’t wait to die”. Another woman — who was 96 — asked if she could visualise herself at age 105. She looked very vibrant for her age and was enthusiastic even in her 90s.

We have friends from the UK, aged 80, who visit us each year. They are very active indeed, teaching young people in England and Germany about the history of the Holocaust. They both said that they couldn’t imagine not doing what they are doing. They are very inspired about life as they age.

What comes to mind when looking at the various individual “retirees” is that there is a relatively broad spectrum of attitudes as to how older individuals view themselves as they age. There appear to be two contrasting opinions:

“I’m too old”

When people say or think this, they are giving up on life. Sometimes families, though well meaning, may instil this attitude in the older set. The retirees end up doing the same day-to-day chores and have nothing that inspires them. It’s a sad way to spend the last 15 to 25 years of one’s life.

“Life is great, and I make the most of it every day”

These individuals are not hanging around or waiting to die. They have found something that inspires them going forward. They may have started a new business to apply their creativity, or they did not retire but continued to work in a position where they are still valuable.

It all comes down to mindset. Some people are inherently driven. They will always find something meaningful to do for themselves or others. On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who feel sorry for themselves, whether because of health or relationship issues. They live in a constant state of inertia and boredom.

If you think life has thrown major roadblocks at you, perhaps you need put things in perspective and consider this true story:

A young man in university started noticing clumsy episodes and slurring of his speech. Soon, at age 21 he was diagnosed with a severe neurological disorder, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Doctors gave him two years to live. Despite that prognosis he survived, and yet his condition continued to deteriorate rendering him totally paralysed. He eventually needed to be on a ventilator to breathe and could only speak with the aid of a computer. Despite the odds against him, this man has survived and today at age 74 is recognised as a pre-eminent physicist and cosmologist. This man’s name is Stephen Hawking.

Despite Hawking’s severe disability, he continues to write and research. He has not given up on life. Most of us will never have this level of impairment even in our later years. Whether you have arthritis, diabetes, cancer or chronic asthma, you have the capacity to live a purposeful life.

The easy way out is to make excuses about our age or health. How about changing the mindset so that we acknowledge that we have abilities that can make a difference for ourselves or others whether we are 70, 80 or 90? Many individuals are doing so today. If they can do it, so can you.

If you can dream it, you can achieve it – whatever your age!

Share your thoughts below.

Dr Ely Lazar and Dr Adele Thomas

  1. Never do I feel too old; in fact, I’m off on a cruise down the Caribbean on my own in March.

  2. Great article. I feel I am 60 going on 20. I am embracing new experiences. Joining this site has made a huge difference to my life. Your articles challenge me to think about important issues. Your jokes make me laugh and your musical articles make me sing. First meeting of my drama group tomorrow. What a hoot.

  3. Hawking is an exceptional human. He has my utmost admiration.
    I certainly adhere to the ‘Life is great…’ category. Just as an example, and not wishing to laud myself, some years back my wife had to enter a nursing home. On my twice-daily visits, I realised occupational therapy at the home devolved greatly upon women. There was little of real interest to the (admitted minority of) male residents. I spoke to the DON and the CEO who agreed with my plan to set up a wood working group for the men, not that it was exclusive. It worked well, proving to be great therapy for the residents… and for me!

  4. age is just a number.went to a dance yesterday & saw a couple celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary. they danced a beautiful waltz. both in their nineties.

  5. Some days , mentally I feel 30, other days when I am in pain, I feel 100, just depends on the day. But physically I am in my 60’s 🙂

    1 REPLY
    • I know exactly what you mean Libbi, I’m 67 in June and mentally 30 however I like you am crippled with Arthritis and on the bad days I really wish I wasn’t here. But what a difference a day can make!

  6. Great read. I’m in my mid 50’s and have been plagued by ill health and pain for the last decade. Some days it’s hard to get out of bed, but everyday I do. I go for a walk, a swim or the gym five days a week. I plan interesting meals and I love cooking for my family. Having them all visit is a very physical challenge, but I do it. I have to keep going for them.

  7. I’ll be out there doing something until I drop. I’m closer to 73 than 72 so there is still a lot to do. I’ll do three fishing trips this year. A fishing trip for me is 6 or 7 days in a remote area being on the water for at least 10 hours a day, up to 2 of those travelling and the rest fishing.

    My first trip is flats fishing so it is on a Technical Poling Skiff with the guide/skipper on the poling platform maneuvering the skiff and sighting fish while I stand on the front deck casting to the fish we see or he calls (ie 10 o’clock 60) so I cast the fly to the feeding/strike zone and work it from there. On an average day one will cast 300 to 400 times

    On my second trip I’ll be flats fishing in the Archer river system on Cape York. The water is about 1 metre deep and we are drifting flies with the tide in the lanes where the Palolo worm hatch is. Endeavouring to hook up to 1.25 metre fish which scream off 300 metres of line in 20+ seconds (don’t get your knuckles near the handle on the fly reel). Once that tide is finished you then go and chase pelagics on other flats.

    The October trip is not finalised at present. It will be pelagics on the flats on the western side of the tip of Cape York or wading the flats for 7 days chasing Bonefish at Kiritimati in the middle of the Pacific 2000 ks south of Hawaii.

    If the budget would allow it I’d do at least 6 trips a year. One thing is the scenery is terrible. See photo of Kiritimati (Paris from Smokey) B|

  8. Great article.Im 67 my brain is 30 but my body lets me down sometimes, I suffer with rheumatoid arthritis but still try to keep active off on a cruise 24 th feb can’t wait.😀

  9. I am 65 life has thrown me some curve balls , sad to say I have out lived my husband and my only child and I can’t walk as well as I would like due to a fall but I zip around on my mobility scooter I have fantastic friends and I love life I don’t feel old mentally I am still learning every day .

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