Then and Now – What does being OLD really mean?

*originally published: 5th Feb 2008

Some time ago the Government decided it would be more respectful to address retired people as Senior Citizens rather than Old Age Pensioners. Their lead does not seem to have been followed by all the other official bodies or the media.

When that decision was made one wonders which of the three words they objected to or considered degrading? Was it the term ‘old’ they didn’t like? –Attention being brought to their ‘age’? – Or as ‘pensioners’ being identified as dependant on the State?

old-couplePerhaps it was all three of them! The people least concerned about what they are called are probably those who have reached the age that qualifies for such a title. Regardless of their circumstances or the kind of life they have had, that is the time when they all seem to develop a new found self-esteem.

Did You Know?

The words ‘old age’ are defined as ‘the later part of life’ but ‘old’ is not reserved exclusively for those who reach retirement age. It has many interpretations. We refer to friends we have known a long time as ‘old friends’. Everything in the past is thought of as ‘old’ as opposed to being new, so any time we replace something we automatically inherit an ‘old’ one.

old-new-camerasThere is no fixed period of time for anything before it might be classed as ‘old’. It could be a possession you have had for years or a present you only got yesterday that you renew because it doesn’t quite do the job you need it for.

Such illustrations of material things put ‘old’ in the past but it isn’t always. For the young it’s just as often in the future. A child of ten would consider a teenager as being older and someone who is twenty as ‘old’. From the moment they are capable of thinking about it all children want to be older than they are. At twelve they want to be fifteen: – At fifteen they want to be eighteen and at eighteen they want to be twenty-one. For all the years after that they usually wish they could go back to their ‘old’ age of twenty-one.

It is even more so for adults when their fortieth birthday becomes imminent. From then on everybody would like to put the clock back and be young again, wishing they had acted differently during their childhood and worked harder at school.

young-wisdomAfter forty has been reached, age continues to tick away on the calendar but how ‘old’ you are in the succeeding years often depends a great deal on an individual’s mental outlook and physical wellbeing.

Some people in their fifties appear more like seventy year olds while others seem to remain like ‘spring chickens’ until they reach a very old age. For some a rapid deterioration can be due to ill health or other causes beyond their control but for most there is an option.

old-olderAll through our life whenever we refer to ‘old’ in relation to Senior Citizens it is always in the future. That is until we reach that age. Some men and women take the receipt of the old age pension as a cue to just give up and relax.

Fortunately, nowadays the majority have a determination to enjoy themselves and with a new found freedom do many of the things they have been unable to do in the past. Now that we are all living longer this is being encouraged from all quarters.

holidaysAll kinds of holidays at home and abroad, outings as well as sporting activities and a variety of local clubs are organised exclusively for the ‘over 65’s’. This is great news for those who are already retired and have sufficient resources to finance their leisure but to the future generations who are struggling with mortgages and private pensions it is unlikely to appear so rosy.

It seems it might soon be an achievement to retire without debts. If so, the outlook for the many businesses that control the pleasures and entertainment for the elderly begins to look rather bleak.

Young people are not generally very interested in ‘old’ material things. They look to the future and concentrate on all the new gadgets that become available almost daily.

Nevertheless, situations change as the years pass and as they grow older their minds spend more and more time reminiscing and remembering many of the ‘old’ things they enjoyed and their favourite possessions of yesteryears.

old-photosObjects, photographs and places as well as music often hold that magic key to treasured memories. They are probably the most valued ‘old’ any of us will ever have.

valley lad – [FORTY]