At what age am I ‘Old’?

I started to ponder this when a friend of mine had a problem with his leg and the GP said it is ‘old age’!…….. I waited for him to tell me what the GP had followed that with and it quickly became clear, that old age had been given as the diagnosis for the problem, and the reason to end the conversation.

I started to wonder at what age we decide that the real issue is not worth finding. Old age will cover it?
Why would it be acceptable to take no action if it was just muscular and a physio could help? At what point do we or others not deserve the same treatment we did last year or last week? It is not just about health. We also assume that because people are older, they won’t want to go to festivals, jump out of aeroplanes, do a Bungy jump. These are the fun things in life and we should all have fun in our lives, especially when we finally have some spare cash and more free time.

Of course it is subjective. I clearly remember when I was 21 classing the majority of people I worked with as old. Looking back now I can’t see that many of them could even have reached 50.

I thought about my amazing grandmother who lived independently until the day she died at 98. Yes, there is luck involved in keeping your health but is it all luck?

She never saw anything as impossible or out of bounds. She was incurably interested in everything, had theories on what was happening in the world, she was always busy with something and was an incurable giggler.  At 80 she went on her first hot air balloon flight, at 90 she painted her conservatory. At 96 she pulled a muscle moving plant pots in her prize winning garden.  She didn’t see any rules. Come to think of it, I don’t recall anyone telling her she was too old for anything or that old age was the problem.

When I had the pleasure of working directly with ‘older people’, it was clear how little it took to give people who had accepted the ‘old age myth’ a new perspective. That was swiftly followed by a new lease of life.  Mostly it was about making something accessible, creating an opportunity and giving a little encouragement. This lovely film shows what a difference a little encouragement made to two lovely ladies.

This blog started out as a bit of a rant on a topic I feel passionate about, wanting to have a word with people who write off ‘older people’. Perhaps I get more passionate as I head towards that category myself?

But I still don’t know where the marker is that classifies me as old. Or do I? I think it may be the day that I stop learning, the day I stop trying new things or being interested in life and asking questions.

If that’s true it is within my gift to keep the ‘old age’ label at a distance. It is also within my gift to help others to keep it at bay, by making sure I don’t make assumptions about age. After all, my grandmother did it brilliantly, so I have a great example to model my behaviour on.

Actually, it all comes round to the behaviour we choose to display creating responses, that reinforce the behaviour and we get stuck in a cycle. Our behaviour is not just about work and family it’s about our whole outlook on life and will shape the life we have.

Wow, now that’s a bit deep for me, so I will leave it there with one of my favourite clips that shows having fun is contagious, even when you are hanging around waiting for an appointment.

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