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A Question Of Age?

A Question Of Age?

I’ve just watched a 92 year old woman abseiling down a high television building. She’s abseiled for charity for over a decade in addition to nursing her blind husband. I admire her pluck. Others may disapprove and feel that she should get out the Velcro slippers and knitting. Is she unusual? No! In an age when ‘Sixty is the new Forty’ Supergrans and Grandads all over the country all over the country are making up for time spent fighting a war or struggling to bring up families on a pittance with no opportunity for leisure on the leisure front.

People come in all shapes and sizes. There are ‘old’ 20 year-olds and those over well over 70 who are running marathons, working the land, doing exams and writing or painting from their beds. However there are others being tanked up on medication to keep them quiet, staring at the walls with no intelligent conversation and being driven mad by the well-meaning efforts of those who ply them with bingo, ‘charabanc trips’ and communal singing because ‘that’s what ‘old’ people want’. There have always been those of every age who like to be waited on hand, foot and finger when they are quite capable of helping themselves. There are others, often less fit and older, who will do the waiting. The problem comes when those with a ‘nanny state’ mentality try to limit the latter by reason of age, often based on outdated perceptions of their own grandparents whom they presume to be some kind of blueprint for the elderly in general.

But they are people too, not clones. Like us, they have varying physical, mental and emotional needs which they may be quite capable of discussing if given the opportunity. They have a lifetime of dignity and experience, too good to waste. They deserve to flourish as individuals with self-respect, to make their own decisions (and mistakes) in the first instance. They don’t need us to stifle them with our own preconceptions and misguided good intentions. We need to listen, to suggest rather than patronise — because tomorrow we may reap the results of the attitudes we sow today. Let us try to plant a healthy and resilient seed that will be beneficial for everyone.

PMH From an idea of SH