The fun that comes with getting older


I celebrated another birthday last week. “Celebrated” is probably the wrong word at my age. “Cried” would probably have been more appropriate as one watches the years tick by and you are left wondering just how many more are left. Despite everything, you cannot live forever. Probably a good thing as a world populated by centenarians would be a trifle daunting and overcrowded too.

As part of the “celebrations” I looked at the statistics in the hospital as far as in-patients were concerned. Well over 50 percent of those lying in a bed were over 60 years of age. Would I be next? The down side of getting older, perhaps? And many of them had brought the problem on themselves, unfortunately. Unchecked hypertension leading to a stroke is regrettable. Unchecked blood sugar leading to the amputation of a limb double ditto. Lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking triple ditto. With some preventive maintenance in the form of regular check-ups many of these in-patients could have avoided hospitalization.

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However, as we get older we have to learn to accept some restrictions in our daily living, as well as some unwelcome additions. I have found that after sitting at my desk for a while and then getting up, the first few movements are more staggers than steps until the knees start working again. I remember what a fast runner I was, indeed a schoolboy champion, but these days I want to ignore that I get breathless after 50 meters and the legs give out, and the pace is certainly not that of a 16 year old athlete.

I have found that I can easily use the stairs to ascend one floor, but two floors produces painful upper thighs. Physical restrictions such as these destroy my self-delusions that I could easily out-run my children over 100 meters. It isn’t really fair, is it?

I mentioned additions that aging brings to the lifestyle. One is having to get up at least once a night to have a pee. Twice if I have been silly enough to have several drinks before bed. Another is the reading glasses that I need to read the newspaper, or even the computer monitor. I have to buy shirts with a pocket, just for carrying spectacles as I am too vain to wear them on a string around my neck. I don’t really want to advertise the fact that I am over the age of 40 (and a couple of decades on top of that as well). It is also necessary to have several pairs, spares in every office and another for home and another in the car, as like the American Express advertisement says, “Don’t leave home without them.”

Many years ago, when I was trying to deny I really needed glasses, I took a young lady to dinner at an Italian restaurant. Finding that the dimmed lighting made reading the menu impossible, I gambled on a minestrone soup and a scallopini al limone. The waiter looked impressed and carefully recorded my choices, only to return a couple of minutes later saying, “The chef would like to know where you saw the minestrone, because it isn’t on our menu.” My deception was uncovered. My age revealed and my chagrin made public.

I was out in a car the other night, driven by a friend of similar age to myself. Before crossing Sukhumvit Road he wound down the tinted glass driver’s side window. “I find I am having trouble judging distance and speed of oncoming traffic at night, but it’s better with the window down.” I commiserated with him as I do exactly the same, signs of early cataract formation in us both. Getting older isn’t all beer and skittles.

However, getting older still beats the alternative! So what can you do to remain “young”, well as young as possible? Try to avoid the excesses of life and living. It is indeed the middle way is the best way. Try to avoid getting overweight, and check your weight on the same set of scales each week. If you are getting heavier, restrict the intake for a few days.

No secret formula – just the middle way.