To me the worst part about getting older is the uncertainty. The ultimate is not knowing how much longer we have left on this earth- it could be anything from 1 to 20 years (it may be even longer but I assume that beyond then I will be a very different me, particularly physically).
Last week I got the flu. I had had the vaccine months previously but apparently when they were deciding which strains to include this year they missed one which led to a flu epidemic some weeks ago (goodness knows why I’ve waited until now!). Normally the vaccine works for me and I haven’t had flu for decades. In those days I was much younger and fitter so I could just write a week off then take up where I left off. Today ageing makes things very different. I still don’t know when I can tick it off and move on and be back to normal.
One of my elderly friends has been frustrated by the restrictions of pneumonia recovery for weeks.
Apart from these interludes providing a temporary but longer than before setback we still have to allow for the fact that prolonged setbacks could occur at any stage, including the ultimate setback of the end of it all. It makes life planning very difficult. Should I try to get everything done now as though I haven’t long or can I work my way leisurely through what I want to achieve and assume I have enough time, and the capacity, to get everything done? Maybe as this will give me a much more enjoyable life I should stick to it and hope that if I don’t finish what I want to do others will take over and complete it. Some of the things I want and aim for, such as an older person representing us at the United Nations and older people running conferences on ageing are unlikely to occur for a quite a while (decades) anyway. For the latter what I want would mean we older people would be a majority on the organising committees, we would provide the majority of speakers and the majority of the audience at conferences on ageing. I can’t see any of that being achieved in my lifetime. Those involved in research into ageing are unlikely to admit that without us older people their knowledge of ageing is limited. I’ve just finished reading some recent research into the volunteering areas in which retirees put their time and effort. The book involved a large number of researchers across several European countries and would have involved a lot of expense leading to this result. Oops! What they should have said was that these were the areas of volunteering currently available for older retirees. I am arguing that the talents, expertise and knowledge of older people should be harnessed to allow for the creativity older people could bring to the community if given the opportunity. This would open up new areas for volunteering. This is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow societies are currently missing out on.
I wonder to what extent my somewhat morbid thoughts are inspired by the fact that I bet on the horse that died in the recent Melbourne Cup? He was very, very valuable and I assume that no expense would have been spared on his health needs yet he still managed to have a heart attack doing what he had been specifically trained to do. I don’t stand a chance compared with him!!!