Still more of your thoughts on growing older
This is the fourth in our series of articles exploring how people near, at or over 80 years of age think and feel about getting older and being old. The first three articles have elicited a great response, both from contributors themselves and from people commenting on the contributions printed.
One reader commented on the contributions as follows: “So many of the quotes were basically self-indulgent expressions of their own egoism – happily, there were some that also detailed their giving back to society. The world is made up of givers and takers with a few in-between. I believe that there is a Chinese proverb that more or less states that society is made by givers whilst the takers who live off the givers end up keeping humanity standing still.”
Dear Reader, do you agree? If you would like to either contribute or comment, please email your thoughts to email@example.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:
––A joint effort by an English couple who moved back to England from the Algarve––
There are no “old people” in our home – we are ageing through our “Golden Years” and thoroughly enjoying them, too.
Charles Darwin wrote: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Normally change comes following retirement, when many of us have worked ca. 40+ years. As we are some 20 years down the line, we are still here and have adapted to change. This is an ongoing process/preparation and in many ways should include correction of life’s chronic injuries where possible, be they physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual or interpersonal. To do this, it helps to be open to learning new things, which may require forgetting some of your old ideas. “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
Following on from some recent medical problems, we have had to “change” so as to adapt more easily to ageing to ensure longevity. Not easy, but common sense has prevailed with age and we are going to win the game. It’s not possible to say “do this” or “do that”, as each person has their own perceptions, restrictions and the willpower to get up and go. In saying that, it is essential, where possible during waking hours, to stand up for a couple of minutes every hour to improve the circulation and other vitals.
Where and when practical, one has to have their daily non-prescribed intake of two glasses of red wine (wine glass size optional).
Bearing in mind that one’s age is just a number, through the years the larger the number the more time we have had to enjoy ourselves. Remember how lucky you are to still be enjoying today, tomorrow and beyond, unlike some family and friends who have gone yonder.
Ageing is just a process to enjoy. As days go flying past, we see that, in the future, loneliness could be a real killer. Hopefully we will have family and friends to help us as we attack our pension funds for many more years to come.
––A Dutch woman living in the Algarve––
I am 88! Nobody believes me and I do not want to believe it myself. Actually, I am a bit proud of it; I don’t want to complain. I think you should not think too much about it. If you do, you really might get old. Do you want that? Some people are old when they reach 65. Some people think they just started living. I am an optimistic person!
––An English man living in the Algarve––
My New Year’s Resolution is to be around and well on the first of January next year. My philosophy in life is to expect the best but prepare for the worst. To never use old age as an excuse for not doing something, unless it is something that I would hate doing at any age. To smile and make those I come in contact with happy.
––An American man living in Canada––
For our university’s 50th reunion book, I wrote that the secret to staying young and healthy is simple: “choose your parents very carefully”. Now it’s 10 years later and my wife and I have suffered through the loss of one son at age 49 and one grandson at nine, so I’m not as flippant about these things as I was.
In fact, I’ve joined the many who believe what’s important is not how long one lives, but what one does to make things better for others, both our contemporaries and the many who will follow us.
My wife and I are great believers in the power of education to change lives and are doing what we can to help make a college or university education available to bright young people in our community who can’t afford it otherwise. To that end, we have started an endowment with a charitable foundation to provide partial four-year scholarships each spring to outstanding local students with financial need.
Our wills provide that, after remembering our family and our favourite charities, the remainder of our estate will go to this community foundation to fund these scholarships in perpetuity.
In the meantime, we’re granting small scholarships ourselves and now have five students in various universities scattered across North America. We really enjoy participating in the student selection and then staying in touch as “our” students navigate their four undergraduate years.
––An English man living in London––
Frankly, I am only too well aware that I am getting old, so I like to pretend I am not!
––A French man living in the Algarve––
When somebody dies in France, the authorities are informed immediately and the pension payments are automatically stopped. When a French person dies abroad, the French authorities don’t have the information. To be sure to not pay undue pension for too long, the “Securité Sociale Assurance retraite” requires each year a certificate signed by a foreign authority to say that the person is still alive. Here is what I wrote on my last certificate – “Thank you for regularly taking news of my health. However, your showing such impatience to see me dead bothers me. Please know that, with the recent amazing medical progress, I will be the first person to live forever. As a consequence, please budget a sufficiently large amount of money for my future pension payments”! All the pensions organisations are going to be in huge deficit!
––An English man living in the Algarve––
I was born in 1937 and decided wisely to make a life and family in the Algarve since 1970. Upon possibly a desperate suggestion from my sons, I have found a most useful way to occupy a now otherwise empty life by writing my life story in the form of a book for only family consumption. The book is a never-ending work in that the memory of past events and moments are often triggered by life as it is today.
As Edith Piaf famously sang – “Je ne regrette rien”
By Larry Hampton