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Posted by portugalpress on March 30, 2018

This is the third in our series of articles exploring how people in the near, at or over 80 age-group think and feel about getting older. The first two articles have elicited a great response, both from contributors themselves and from people commenting on the contributions printed.

One reader in the latter group said: “One thing for sure is that thoughts are very coherent at 80+. I thought the responses were very good.

“I noted that: a) there are lots of recollections; b) not much mention of families, which supports the ‘everyone is living their own life’ situation we see today; c) not much mention of running out of money; d) no one set out any plans or a list of things they wanted to achieve (that’s possibly because they have done everything they want); e) no one questioned why they were still there and whether they had a purpose; f) no one went into details about death; and g) not much talk about marking time.

“What I learned from it was: a) continue to do things you like whilst you are able; b) look forward, the past is memories; and c) there is no point thinking about the inevitable.

“Overall, it is a very interesting topic for people of all ages. It might make the younger generation realise there’s more to ‘golden oldies’ than they think.”

If you would like to contribute, please email your thoughts to larry.hampton.37@gmail.com. I will acknowledge every contribution and send a final compilation to all contributors. Your replies will be kept anonymous, because I want your frank, honest and completely open views. I only need to know your gender, nationality and area of residence (presumably, the Algarve).

A selection of your responses follows:

An English woman living in England

To me age is only a number. It is a number I try not to think about too much, as I am shocked when I do. I can’t believe my age. How did it happen so fast? What happened to my life? I got to the age I am way too quickly. And I seem to be rushing against time to try to do everything I want to and fit everything in. Before I have no time left.

Also, if I start to think about the age I am, my body and mind might start acting like it and I might not do all the things I do.

I am sometimes disappointed that I can’t do the things I used to do, but it is a matter of acceptance and adjustment. I am also shocked when I look in the mirror. Someone looks back at me that I don’t recognise.

After all, ageing is a part of the circle of life. The only way to avoid it is to end the time spent on the beautiful earth in this wonderful world. I’m hoping to enjoy it as long as I can. I’ve been very blessed so far and I am grateful I got to the age I am.

An American man living in the Algarve

I attended West Point starting when I was 17. I had to pass a tough physical test to get in, along with days of academic tests. I thought I had done something amazing when I was admitted, only to find out that I was relatively weak in both the mental and physical departments compared to my new class-mates. That led me to be acutely concerned about my mental and physical states. I fought age daily. Perhaps more than most others, I took careful notice of each inability as it came along and tried to overcome it. Now many friends are in hospitals on their way out at the rate of one or two a month and, so far, I’m not and I’m still fighting.

One thing I do, not being an instrumentalist, is sing. Singing is athletic and a wonderful exercise and will keep you going mentally and physically. So I probably won’t, but if I die tomorrow, it will have been a good fight and an adventure.

A Dutch man living in France

I have been thinking this over and fear I have few original comments.

I am 90 and getting old is not much fun. The human body needs a lot of maintenance and, with age, that becomes cumbersome. Chronic fatigue, rheumatic pains and balance problems. A great wife helps a great deal to keep up my morale and help me where needed.

An English man living in the Algarve

Far from being a pleasurable experience, getting old has too many depressing downsides, so absolutely the last thing I want to do is to think and to write about it.

As far as jotting down my thoughts is concerned, I am happy to do so on pretty well any other subject which is free from depressingly negative connotations.

So I wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful 2018 and hope you spend minimal time contemplating getting old, just as I firmly intend to do.

From an interview with the American author Philip Roth, published in the NY Times, January 16, 2018

Q: “In a few months, you’ll turn 85. Do you feel like an elder? What has growing old been like?”

A: “Yes, in just a matter of months, I’ll depart old age to enter deep old age – easing ever deeper daily into the redoubtable Valley of the Shadow. Right now, it is astonishing to find myself still here at the end of each day. Getting into bed at night I smile and think, ‘I lived another day’. And then it’s astonishing again to awaken eight hours later and to see that it is morning of the next day and that I continue to be here. ‘I survived another night’, which thought causes me to smile once more. I go to sleep smiling and I wake up smiling. I’m very pleased that I’m still alive. Moreover, when this happens, as it has, week after week and month after month since I began drawing Social Security, it produces the illusion that this thing is just never going to end, though, of course, I know that it can stop on a dime. It’s something like playing a game, day in and day out, a high-stakes game that for now, even against the odds, I just keep winning. We will see how long my luck holds out.”

As Edith Piaf famously sang,
“Je ne regrette rien”

By Larry Hampton

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