- Looking Forward to
- Very, Very, Very Old, Part Two
- By Barrington H.
I am sixty years old and looking forward to
reaching eighty years; however, it seems that old people are so sickly. I am
beginning to fear getting old. Are my fears justifiable? Some people are already
saying I am old, but I think I really look youthful. Do I really have anything
to worry about? Signed. Getting Old.
Last week we began sharing on this exciting topic. Some may have asked how
is it that I could talk about such a subject when I am only 47 years old. That's
the whole point. My attitude now will determine how I will approach life when I
get very, very, very old. I truly cannot wait to get, very, very old. It's a
time when I will be responsible to, but for no one. I will be able to leave my
zipper down and people will think I am normal. I will be able to stay up all
night or sleep all day. Annick, my dear wife, who edits these articles so ably
each week, will be able to stay in my arms 24 hours without interruptions. We
will be able to go on long trips, unconcerned about time to return home. It's
going to be wonderful!
Since publishing the first part to this question last week, I
have been sharing with friends and strangers about their feelings about old age.
Unfortunately, many of them are not looking forward to being alive after age 65.
I am convinced that this is probably a result of one S environment or observing
persons who are over 65. When we think of old age, we think of arthritis, high
blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, senility, cataract,
impotence, pancreatic disease, breast cancer, etc. What are the predominant
characteristics of all of these diseases? They have in common pain, discomfort,
and dependence on another for assistance. No one wants a life of pain and
discomfort. More than that, the worst thing that can happen to someone is losing
his or her independence. I think this is perhaps the number one reason why
people fear old age. They do not want to call on others, family, or friends to
do the normal daily routine things of life for them. But who said that old age
will automatically create this? My family and I had the privilege of living in
communities in Michigan, USA for about four years where many elderly citizens
resided. It was a joy to see husbands and wives, over eighty years; some in the
nineties and early hundreds riding bicycles, driving cars, taking brisk walks in
the snow, climbing mountains, and canoeing. In fact, many times I was shocked to
find out that these persons were really more than 65.
While living in Cooked Island, I met a woman who was 100
years old. She was extremely active and healthy. Each morning she would go to
the field to tend her crops and return later in the day with a bundle of wood on
her head for her wood stove. One day while my wife and I were visiting her, we
were encouraged when this dear energetic, happy, young senior citizen said in
her stable and fearless voice: "I am finished with the first century, I an'
going toward the second." Now that's a positive approach to old age. Humor
can also go a long way in helping us face joyfully the realities of old age.
Here is a humorous poem my wonderful young father, 72, found and shared with me
entitled, "Young at Heart." The author is unknown.
- How do I know my youth has been spent;
- Because my get-up-and-go, got up and went.
- But in spite of all that, Iím able to grin
- When I think where my get-up-and-go has been.
- Old age is golden, I've heard it said,
- But sometimes I wonder as I go to bed,
- My ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup,
- My eyes on a table until I wake up.
- When I was young my slippers were red,
- I could kick my heels right over my head;
- When I grew older my slippers were blue,
- But I could still dance the whole night thru.
- Now I am old my slippers are black,
- I walk to the corner and puff my way back.
- The reason I know my youth is spent
- My get-up-and-go got up and went.
- I get up each morning, dust off my wits
- Pick up the paper and read the "obits,"
- If my name is missing, l know I'm not dead
- So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed.
In the Bahamas in 1996, there were 13,591 persons 65 and
older, 2,401 persons 75 to 79 years old; and 2,351 persons 80 years and older.
Statistics are not available for those 100 and older living in the Bahamas.
About eight years ago, there were at least 40,000 people in the United States
100 years and older. It is believed that there are now more than more than
100,000 people this age. The elderly population is growing around the world.
People are waiting later to retire and are becoming more involved in community
activities in the retirement years of their lives.
Why not look at old age as an opportunity to share the wisdom
and knowledge earned? Why not look at old age as a time to do things you always
wanted to do, but did not have the time to do? Begin now to think of old age as
a joy, not a pain. Develop health habits now that can reduce the risk of
developing painful, degenerating diseases when you are old. The good news is
that science is now stating that even osteoporosis is reversible at any age with
proper diet, even in those 80 years and older.
Let us think highly of the senior citizens of our country.
Let us treat them with respect and the greatest care. For one day we will be
very, very, old. See you at 100!