It isn’t only Me

A younger person arriving perhaps by accident on this website, and glancing at these blogs, might think that older people have a rough time, and, worse, spend a lot of time moaning about it. They may be right: that impression could be one consequence of my attempt to track and try to interpret the process of ageing, but it’s certainly not my purpose. Caught up in this inevitable process I hope that my own observations and that of others, helps to release us from the feeling that our own experience is an isolated and lonely one.

People age at different stages and there are many stories of older people living amazingly active and fulfilling lives. The fulfilment test challenges us all of us, but for many it can be a bit of a struggle and hopefully this series of blogs which has been going on for a very long time (too long?) shows that there is a common experience to getting old that all of us share. ‘It isn’t only me’.

I have been sorting out the papers in my ‘Health’ file.

There are a number of referrals by my doctor to various departments of our local hospital and the responses of consultants to problems related to different parts of my body which had been giving me concern. ‘We do not plan to see this patient again unless….’ some of them say. Others suggest that in time another check up would be advisable.

Apart from heart surgery eight years ago and then a course of radiotherapy to deal with prostate cancer, all my ‘problems’ have been minor. Energy level is much lower than it used to be and that’s a nuisance, but it’s failing memory and difficulty in concentration which for me is the real burden of getting older.

I saw an old school friend recently. His memory has been so bad that he has had specialist treatment for it, but the problem has not eased. I find like him that people are beginning to be aware that I’m not always ‘with it’, and when involved with a group it’s an embarrassment to me (and perhaps slightly amusing to them) when its clear I am finding it difficult to keep up with the subject in hand, and any contribution I make belongs to a matter no longer under discussion.

Age is one thing that all the medical help I have had and continue to have – and for which I am grateful – rarely refer to. It’s almost as if it is the forbidden subject. But it’s how it is, and the tension between acceptance and resistance to all the effects of ageing, is the battleground on which we older ones live.