Our generation of hill-walkers, charity parachute jumpers and cyclists appear to be glowing with health, making it difficult to admit to suffering from conditions associated with ageing. We have also had to cope with the loss of parents, sometimes siblings and close friends, from illnesses like Parkinsons, MS and motor-neuron disease. Many families have had mental health issues to deal with, sometimes over many years.
Sometimes you just feel old, especially when you are not well. I’ve spent a couple of days floored by a nasty cough, unable to shrug it off by just getting on with things regardless. We are used to putting on a good face, saying ‘Fine!’ when people ask how we are. Often it is only those closest to us who know about hospital visits, tests and medication. I imagine there are few pensioners without some condition requiring treatment. My grandmother, at the age I am now and when younger, always had something wrong with her, often the ailment described by ‘The Doc’ in The Sunday Post. She generally sat with her feet up and was looked after. She was a great believer in her own home remedies – any admission of stomach pain resulted in a dose of brandy, sugar and hot water. (I still can’t drink brandy!) In spite of this, along with smoking, eating sweeties and taking no exercise, she lived until she was 89.
As someone who has experienced losses and learned to live with health problems, I feel that I have learned about myself and others from getting through difficult times. We are lucky enough to have healthcare which gets us access to specialists when we need it, as well as screening for conditions left untreated in my grandmother’s time. Being resilient and ready to take on the challenges of ageing is fine, but sometimes taking to your bed is the right way to look after yourself. What do you think? How has experience of ill-health or loss affected you? Right now, I’m up, dressed and needed to resolve a tomato plant crisis. Such is life.