Growing Old: What Will I be Like?

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Someone once said that God is sending you signals loud and clear when, all of a sudden, the people in your space have a lot in common. In that case, God must be sending me a lighter, flare, and flambeaux about getting older. I have a lot of mature individuals in my space… mom, grandmom, relatives, neighbours, and even a few friends.
I also find myself observing the pension posse in their designated line at the bank. And to top it off, I am doing a social gerontology course, and another course related to aging this semester for my degree in social work. So, being a person who tries not to put her head in the sand, I am now contemplating who I want to be, and who I don’t want to be, when I grow older.
Dr. Rouse, my lecturer in social gerontology, points out that when we are old, we get the body and personality that we worked for when we were young. So I guess if I want to age in the way that I want, I better get to working now on the best person I can be.
I always remember looking at my grandmother when she was in her early 60s, and thinking, “This is what I want to be when I grow up”. She was a very active woman. This lady worked at a home for senior citizens doing geriatric nursing. She was always busy, with an active church and social life. In those days, you had to call to see if she was home before visiting. And that was simply because she lived and maintained her home on her own. There was no woman who was more fashionable or more of a shoe-a-holic than my grandma. At present, she is in her 80s, has slowed down a bit, and isn’t working anymore. But, still, she is on her own, with a bit of help, and she’s still as fabulous as ever.
I took her as my model, because in many ways she represented what I want to be, not only in the social aspect of my life, but also in how she thought. Because she was so engaged with her life, and with the people around her, she is always open to learning as much as her brain can soak up. I want to be like her, and always have a surprise or two up my sleeve.
Another strong influence on how I envision myself as a senior citizen is my mom. She has always said that her prayer is that she won’t be a miserable, old person. Thus far, I can definitely see her prayer being answered.
She is one of those people who can make friends wherever she goes, and she seems to have a special connection with younger people. Besides, it would be hard not to like a woman who is addicted to Synergy TV, Tanya Stephens and hot cars. She has chosen to approach this season of being a new widow and being a freshly minted senior citizen, as a chance to re-invent herself. In fact, now I like to lime with her because she walks with a cane, and that cane has gotten us into front row seats and the best treatment (doh judge meh!).
As much as I have great examples of what I want to be like when I get older, I also have a vision of what I don’t want to be.
Even though I know I want to be as healthy and active as possible, I also have to face the fact that there will be an inevitable decline in my physical faculties. It is a simple fact. However, in many cases, I have seen people who don’t want to accept that fact.
In our youth-oriented society, it is very hard to accept that you will be no longer the young, sexy specimen that you used to be. I have seen many people fight the inevitability of ageing with shield, spear, battle-axe, gun, and, even in some cases, a bazooka. I definitely do not want to be the older woman who sees the need to wear ‘young people ting’, and try to relive her youthful days to reclaim her youth. I want to be able to enjoy parts of youth culture like my mom does, without getting caught up in the fantasy that I can be 20  again.
I have also observed people who still subtract 20 years from their age, or who get depressed with every new grey hair and wrinkles. The extreme to this are people who get depressed when they are unable to be physically active and independent anymore, and I guess you can’t blame them for feeling like that. That’s the point when I think the real challenge of getting older will hit me.
I want to be able to adapt gracefully to life, even when I cannot take care of myself anymore, and have to surrender to the inevitability of the circle of life. So I hope that I will work hard on accepting being elderly for simply what is – a life stage with its own joys and difficulties, like any other.

growingolderSomeone once said that God is sending you signals loud and clear when, all of a sudden, the people in your space have a lot in common. In that case, God must be sending me a lighter, flare, and flambeaux about getting older. I have a lot of mature individuals in my space… mom, grandmom, relatives, neighbours, and even a few friends. 

I also find myself observing the pension posse in their designated line at the bank. And to top it off, I am doing a social gerontology course, and another course related to aging this semester for my degree in social work. So, being a person who tries not to put her head in the sand, I am now contemplating who I want to be, and who I don’t want to be, when I grow older.

Dr. Rouse, my lecturer in social gerontology, points out that when we are old, we get the body and personality that we worked for when we were young. So I guess if I want to age in the way that I want, I better get to working now on the best person I can be.

I always remember looking at my grandmother when she was in her early 60s, and thinking, “This is what I want to be when I grow up”. She was a very active woman. This lady worked at a home for senior citizens doing geriatric nursing. She was always busy, with an active church and social life. In those days, you had to call to see if she was home before visiting. And that was simply because she lived and maintained her home on her own. There was no woman who was more fashionable or more of a shoe-a-holic than my grandma. At present, she is in her 80s, has slowed down a bit, and isn’t working anymore. But, still, she is on her own, with a bit of help, and she’s still as fabulous as ever.

I took her as my model, because in many ways she represented what I want to be, not only in the social aspect of my life, but also in how she thought. Because she was so engaged with her life, and with the people around her, she is always open to learning as much as her brain can soak up. I want to be like her, and always have a surprise or two up my sleeve. 

Another strong influence on how I envision myself as a senior citizen is my mom. She has always said that her prayer is that she won’t be a miserable, old person. Thus far, I can definitely see her prayer being answered. 

She is one of those people who can make friends wherever she goes, and she seems to have a special connection with younger people. Besides, it would be hard not to like a woman who is addicted to Synergy TV, Tanya Stephens and hot cars. She has chosen to approach this season of being a new widow and being a freshly minted senior citizen, as a chance to re-invent herself. In fact, now I like to lime with her because she walks with a cane, and that cane has gotten us into front row seats and the best treatment (doh judge meh!). 

As much as I have great examples of what I want to be like when I get older, I also have a vision of what I don’t want to be. 

Even though I know I want to be as healthy and active as possible, I also have to face the fact that there will be an inevitable decline in my physical faculties. It is a simple fact. However, in many cases, I have seen people who don’t want to accept that fact. 

In our youth-oriented society, it is very hard to accept that you will be no longer the young, sexy specimen that you used to be. I have seen many people fight the inevitability of ageing with shield, spear, battle-axe, gun, and, even in some cases, a bazooka. I definitely do not want to be the older woman who sees the need to wear ‘young people ting’, and try to relive her youthful days to reclaim her youth. I want to be able to enjoy parts of youth culture like my mom does, without getting caught up in the fantasy that I can be 20  again.

I have also observed people who still subtract 20 years from their age, or who get depressed with every new grey hair and wrinkles. The extreme to this are people who get depressed when they are unable to be physically active and independent anymore, and I guess you can’t blame them for feeling like that. That’s the point when I think the real challenge of getting older will hit me. 

I want to be able to adapt gracefully to life, even when I cannot take care of myself anymore, and have to surrender to the inevitability of the circle of life. So I hope that I will work hard on accepting being elderly for simply what is – a life stage with its own joys and difficulties, like any other.

 

Image credit: shannonseestheworld.blogspot.com

Nicole G. Henry

Nicole Henry is currently pursuing a degree in Sociology with a minor in Social Policy at The University of the West Indies. She has a special place in her heart for disability and mental health issues. She also loves to write, and her taste in music ranges from gospel and soft rock to classical, roots and zydeco (Google that). Domiciled in the 'safe' suburb of Morvant, she is seeking to further fund her addiction to Bijoux Terner and Wonderful World merchandise.

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