Getting old isn’t easy, is it? You put a lifetime of effort into it, then every joint seems to ache most of the time; a night in bed usually adds up to about four hours sleep if you’re lucky, and yet by two o’clock in the afternoon, it’s almost impossible to keep your eyes open or your head off that inviting cushion on the back of the chair. Strangely, that mid-afternoon nap is the time when full sleep seems to come most easily, especially if you have a TV on, to bore you into slumber with its inane programs, plus a decent lunch inside you as well. I suppose one should fight that tendency to sleep the afternoon away? That is most likely the reason for not being able to sleep properly during the night, because you no longer require those extra hours.
Of course, there’s also your bladder. Why, in older age, does the damn thing need emptying at least once every night, sometimes more, and always in the middle of an interesting dream, where you’ve driven your car from Melbourne to Sydney in less than six hours, or you’re just about to make love to that gorgeous girl who lives five doors away, down the road. When you’re awake during the day, you know she is an impossible dream, but come night-time? WOW! That last bit has to be from the point of view of a man, because that’s what I am. For all I know, you ladies get the same feelings for the postman, or the neighbour’s son, or anybody male. You’ll have to fill that bit in with your own imaginations!
In fact, most things are out of kilter by the time you pass 70 and it only gets more annoyingly noticeable over the following years. Your bladder turns out to be one of the smaller problems, when a hip or a knee turns arthritic, or small funny shaped things appear on your face, or you have indigestion for most of every day. One of my worst complaints, more irritating than anything, is the fact that I now lack stamina! Where I used to cut all the rather prolific area of grass around our place in about two hours, I now have to split it all up into three or four separate areas and cut one per day, so the whole job takes nearly a week and then I have to start over again, particularly in the growing season. If I could still get it done as quickly as I used to, I’d have several days of rest between the necessary cuts! Very frustrating.
The heart is another organ that starts to let you down. It becomes distinctly untrustworthy, liable to start palpitating at the most unfortunate moments, so that a lot of the activities you loved are no longer possible. I remember things Jacqui and I used to do which are no longer possible; the last time we did I thought I was going to die afterwards, so I haven’t chanced it since. But enough of that, I’m sure it comes under the heading of ‘too much information’! And it’s very obvious Jacqui and are not the only older couple with a bit of ticker trouble either. Every few weeks we have to go for our regular INR test because we are both on warfarin and there is always a queue, their small record books in their hands and nearly all of them over 70.
Getting old is by no means all depressing though. Unless you are unlucky, you have good friends around you, you get cheap or even free bus and train rides, registering your car is considerably cheaper than the rest have to pay, doctors’ visits and medication costs are low. On top of that, many shops and other services offer discounts to pensioners and most small towns have clubs especially for older citizens, offering bingo, bowls, golf and travel, right up to the dizzying heights of U3A.
No, I’m quite happy being old and lucky enough to be comparatively fit as well. There’s still a big world out there waiting to entertain us, and wherever we go there are plenty of people prepared to make sure we have a good time, to the best of our individual capabilities. I really have no great yen to be young again; I’m enjoying my life right here and right now!
What do you love and loathe about getting older? What has surprised you? Do you have similar complaints to Brian or has ageing been different for you? Tell us below.