It occurred to me that we all know that we will go through various stages in our lives, but we never seem to be prepared for them! At 7 years of age we feel grown up and by 14 years of age we clearly know it all. But in a flash we are in our 20’s and we have to actually start being grown up.
But being in our 20’s is an exciting time – a whole future (if we are lucky) lies ahead. We have careers to plan, relationships to forge, a family to create or we may want to travel the world. Of course we don’t really appreciate any of this at the time and then suddenly 30 looms and we wonder where did it all go! If we haven’t achieved everything by now, we are depressed and start to panic, but we still have hope. 40 looms and by 50 we are in shock – is it the end of life as we know it. But let me tell you now, if you haven’t already got there, 60 is a real downer!! How can that happen? Really, 60? Now that is old.
It didn’t seem that long ago you were hanging around with friends, partying, worrying about a job or promotion and now, even if you are able to forge a new career or focus, you know it will be short lived. Suddenly you become the ‘old lady’ or ‘old man’ next door and you might get the odd well-meaning comment that you really don’t look ‘that old’! You soon discover that you don’t recognise yourself in the mirror, you start looking for the right change in shops and talking to strangers in queues, you moan about everything and policemen and doctors look as though they are 12. Despite convincing yourself that nothing has changed, you certainly still feel 21, you know deep down inside you that however hard you work out at the gym, however much botox or filler, skin creams or healthy eating you do, old age has truly arrived.
But 60 is not the end of the world, as I quickly discovered. Despite what those 12 year old salespeople, policemen, work colleagues etc may think, you still have plenty of life left in you and you can find some comfort in knowing just how quickly time flies and that they will be in your shoes sooner than they realise. Hopefully, you are even well enough to take advantage of the free transport, prescriptions and eye tests. Bonus!
However, my mother reached 88 this year and my self-centered panic about being ‘old’ has been swept aside by the crushing reality of what it really is to be old and to join the realms of the invisible! And I mean invisible!
At some point in our lives, whether we like it or not, we are going to become dependent on others either through illness, disability or the inevitability of old age. These ‘others’ may be family, friends or paid carers. That dependency is not a nice experience to have forced on you, whatever the reason.
I now consider myself fortunate for always been on the ‘giving of care’ side. At some point in the not too distant future (knowing only too well how quickly time passes!) the pendulum will swing back and I will be at the receiving end. That thought now scares me to death as I see the provision of care in our community rapidly disintegrate before my eyes.