Monday, January 05, 2009

Acceptance and Resistance

I have been looking again at Wikepedia’s article on Ageing - one of my early reference points for these blogs. Ageing is described there as the accumulation of changes in an organism or object over time, a multidimensional process of physical, psychological, and social change. Some dimensions of ageing grow, says the article, and expand over time, whilst others decline. Reaction time, for example, may slow with age (that sounds familiar), whilst knowledge of world events and wisdom may (hopefully) expand.

The article makes various termilogical distinctions such as ‘universal’ ageing –something that happens to everyone; ‘probabilistic’ ageing, which may happen to some people but not to others; ‘chronological’ ageing, defined by the number of years we can expect to live; ‘social’ ageing (what’s expected of the elderly in any society) and ‘biological’ ageing. The article then becomes somewhat technical and to me, remote from real experience. Just like everything else, there are specialists in this field who study ageing, whereas we are older have to live with it.

At the end of last year I made a formidable list of the things that were wrong with me – my health I mean, not my temper (though the two are related). Only one of them is serious enough to be a problem because unlike some of the others, it is progressive. It was a self-indulgent exercise but at least it made plain to me that ageing is more about the body (the ‘biological’ ageing referred to above) than the mind (though that is physical too of course). It’s real this deteriation, not imaginary. But whereas the mind can’t change it, it can manage it; which is the real challenge as we get older. That doesn’t mean pretending that it isn’t happening, but as far as possible, changing one’s lifestyle to accommodate it.

That means obvious things, like not moving as quickly as you used to do (and thereby causing less breakages in the kitchen!), allowing yourself to pause before answering a question so as to make sure that you respond correctly, reorganising what you eat at meals rather than insisting that what you have always enjoyed at the table is still good for you when plainly it isn’t, not throwing yourself around in despair because of memory loss, and hoping that when you say something that you forget that you said five minutes ago, people will be patient and forgiving.

We have to accept what is unavoidable but must resist the idea that in the process we have become someone else. We may be different but we are – as we have said in these blogs before – still ourselves. The differences may disturb us but they can be interesting as well. : ’multi-dimensional’ as Wikepedia says!



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home