Thursday, 12 January 2012

Ageing - How we cope with the Inevitable

This faded photo, like the subject, has seen better days.  It was taken in the mid 60's, in the grounds of the Tower of London.

A rehearsal of Yeomen of the Guard, for the London Summer Festival was in progress, a few of us were bored with hanging around waiting for our cue and took photographs of each other.

I was singing in the chorus (on loan from New Opera Co) at the time, hated the costume (particularly the bonnet) and was generally fed up with the way I perceived my appearance.

My male counterpart did not agree and thought the picture would change my mind.  It didn't!

Looking back on it after all these years, I am amazed that I could have had such a poor opinion of myself.  Compared with the old crone who looks back at me from my unfortunate mirror these days, I was positively good-looking.

Appearances aside, because they unfortunately change beyond recognition as time passes, there are other aspects of advancing years which are infinitely more important.

Ist of all of these, in my opinion, is health.

So many people simply allow time to decrease their mobility, kill off their interest in living, and let their grey cells curl up and die.

Ill-health is not always something that can be avoided, but there is so much we can do to remain reasonably fit and well within our limitations that I thought I'd make a list of ways  to stay part of the 21st century rather than an onlooker. 

At the risk of being accused of being a Pollyanna they are:

1,  Do not over eat or drink - or if you must, do so only occasionally.

2.  Do not smoke, ever!

3.  Try to eat as much fresh food as possible, and reserve dry or packet or tinned foods for 'siege' occasions.

4.  Take some exercise every day of your life, even if it is only walking up and down stairs.

5.  Be interested in what is going on in your immediate surroundings, and  in the wider world, and perhaps most  of all, in people, especially those who are lively and interesting. 

6.  Try, however inhibited or shy or reluctant you may be, to join in some sort of social activity.

7.  Never neglect the spiritual side of your personality,  even the tiniest glimmer is worth fanning into a flame.

Last, but not least, trust God to support you if you find yourself flagging.

Needless to say, this  is only what I think is important, not necessarily how I live my life, but I am trying and hoping.


  1. Is a part of the ageing process knowing what a 'Pollyanna' is?

    I am rather young, you see, and despite my 40th ladning in this jubilee year, have noted in my churchy life that the older people seem to be the more content with the wider picture. I might be wrong, of course, as this is simply my own observation. My older relatives seemed to care a lot less about the opinions of others, adopted a remarkable stoicism in the face of life's vagueries, and took a great deal more in their stride.

    Would this be a fair assessment?

  2. Pollyanna was, as I'm sure you know, a fictional small girl who found something to be 'glad' about in every situation. She was impossibly, incurably optimistic and in my opinion a right royal pain in the a...!
    She was nevertheless, quite a role model for those of us who are 'cheerfulness' challenged.
    I cannot answer for the other older people in your churchy life, but am far from content with my lot, merely realise that complaining about it is pointless and a pain for other people.
    By July the 2nd you may have discovered this for yourself.

  3. Ray, I think few are completely happy with their appearance, however young, slim and beautiful others might think them. If that were not true cosmetic plastic surgery wouldn't be the goldmine it is. I think the young you looked pretty good and it's obvious your companion did too. I was the same when young, but now the 65 year old me has stopped worrying about it and I'm at last content in my own (wrinkled and a bit baggy) skin. :-)

    Your advice is spot on and I think DH and I are following just about all of it already.

  4. Dear Ray,
    Perhaps this will sound "Pollyanna-ish" but I think again has offered me a wonderful gift. That is, I have now lived long enough that I can look back over 75 years and see that everything--at least for me--has worked out unto good. I have been fortunate to have learned from mistakes and illnesses and my own contrariness.

    Your list appeals to me. Like you, I'm trying, seldom doing anything 100 percent, but making an effort to stay young at heart and supple of mind and body.


  5. Excellent advice on how to get the best out of life at all ages, but especially as we grow older and appreciate a little TLC.(PS: you are not a crone!)

  6. Perpetua, on reflection, I think youth is beauty in a way, it is a freshness and wholesomeness which can never come again. Not a question of good looks really.
    But as you say, one grows comfortable in one's skin and eventually accepting of the changes.
    My "advice", was merely a list of notes to self rather than a course for others to follow, but much of it is just basic common sense.

  7. Hi Dee. It's good to hear that you have learned from mistakes and your experiences of illness etc. I'd like to think I had too, but fear that might not be very true.
    Obviously some experiences have taught me a lesson or two, but it's still very much a work in progress.
    I guess it takes some of us a bit longer than others.

  8. Yes indeed Sue, liberal helping of TLC given and received should have been item No 1.
    Not a crone? Really? Have you been to Spec Savers lately?

  9. The annoying thing is Ray,that I see myself age on the outside but my brain thinks I can run , cycle, walk faster and further than my body will let me.Which gets frustrating!

  10. Snap Jenni! If you'll forgive the pun. I know exactly what you mean. The spirit is willing but oh the poor knees and lower back.
    These days, though I still run up and downstairs, there is often an ominous castanet accompaniment.
    Glucosamine and Omega 3,6 and 9 help to some degree, but some activities are best undertaken only in the mind.