I Didn’t Realise I was old.

You’re getting old’ a very nearly excommunicated friend told me. Why? Because I’m over 50. The fact that she’s 49 is beside the point.

That’s exciting’ she continued.

I’m intrigued. ‘How so?’

Well, you’ll be able to go on cruises, travel and take it easy. Life will be smooth sailing, no worries, no problems, I can’t wait till I get old.’

I learnt that her view of old age was the pictures she sees in the magazines and papers. You know the ones, older people lying on deck chairs, playing tennis, taking photos of places they’ve visited yet getting old is not that fantastic.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to travel and not care what people think of me, but age is what society has determined. We know this because of the latest viewpoint going around – you know – the forties are the new twenties, the fifties the new thirties, the sixties the new forties and so on. This shows that when once society viewed a person as being old when they hit over their sixties, they now see people as old when they hit their forties. Heck, at one time a child was not an adult until they were 21, now it is 27.

I know people who are ‘Old’ in their twenties and I know old people who are ‘Young’ in their seventies. I know 60 plus year olds who go kite surfing, travel the world, go scuba diving, dancing they try new things – society says they’re old but their brain and body is still very young. I know 18 year olds that should be out partying, being reckless because of their age, yet they sit at home watching DVD’s, knitting and talking about politics.

Society does not like to talk about the elderly. Where possible, society ignores them, they don’t talk about the issues facing those getting old because that means having to admit that there is a problem. Getting older is not the most fantastic thing. I don’t enjoy my hair going grey and having to get it dyed every three weeks, still, maybe that’s how I can earn some money, invest in the company that makes hair dye.

Nor do I enjoy the aches and pains. It really is harder to get up in the morning these days. And I don’t follow the normal pattern of arthritis which took a year to figure out I had. Older people complain about how their arthritis is worse during the colder months, mine is worse during the summer months.

Then there are the diseases that the elderly can get, the dementia, the cancers, the heart attacks and the discrimination. Yet all these things which are seen as ‘Old people’ problems affect the young as well. There are people in their twenties and thirties that have dementia. There is so much cancer around affecting even toddlers, it’s scary and young people have heart attacks now, which was never seen decades ago.

Diseases don’t listen to society’s viewpoint. They don’t discriminate and yes some of it is because of lifestyle choices, but some of it isn’t. Life can be hard. Abuse, conflict, war and disease – all these things have an effect on the person’s body, mind and emotions.

Some people have to deal with more issues than others, and sometimes that is through a personal choice, but sometimes it through another’s choice. But we all have a past, and the thing about getting older is that sure you make mistakes, but have you learnt from your mistakes?

Society shouldn’t look at age as in a number. Age is in reality timeless, but if one is going to look at a person who’s old, then maybe it should be based on how the body copes, with the ravages of time, and what life has thrown at that person.

Society seems to be swinging all over the place as to what it accepts and doesn’t accept as being representative of the whole. Society likes to be politically correct, so much so, maybe we should get rid of the terms like baby, toddler, young, teen, middle aged, old and elderly.

We, as society would then be very politically correct, but then if we have nothing to distinguish the age of people, then we have just de-humanised humanity even further.

There are programs now where people are pushing for mature age workers to be considered because of their skills and what they can teach the younger generation. For example: a 70 year old gay person, is not going to shock a teenager with that revelation, yet when that 70 year old was young, it was an illegal act. What will shock a teenager though, is that there were no mobile phones, no televisions and no Internet.

Maybe society should go back to basics. People are born – that never changes. People grow up – that never changes. People die – that never changes. What changes is technology and advances in research which aids in humanity’s ability to live to a longer age.

Let’s get rid of age defining attitudes. Life is a journey from the day one is born until the day one dies, be that a short or a long time on this earth. Live the best you can. Treat others well. Leave a legacy that will have people talking, even if that is just your family.

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