I began these blogs in October 2005 and there have been many blogs since then. Too many perhaps. 160 of them. When I started out I was 75, now at 79 the difference between then and now is apparent. I began the first posting by saying I was going to try and deal with the ‘delicate business of how to grow old gracefully and without panic’. Whilst others have to decide about the grace, I now have to work hard to avert the panic!
Several things have changed. There have been one or two additional minor health problems, but the main deterioration is in what could be called general competence. I walk more slowly and find I have to do so carefully, whereas once I just walked and left it to my feet to find out how it should happen. My balance is not what it was – when I am working on my allotment I often have a fork or spade near at hand to make sure I have something to hold on to if I stumble. At home I am often knocking things over. I have yet to learn how to do one thing at a time instead of reaching for the next before I have completed the present task.
We have several chipped plates in our china cupboard, causalities of my failure to live without rush. A different pace is part of learning the new me.
My hearing is not as good as it was but, worse, my ability to concentrate is weaker. So when someone says ‘did you hear that?’ the real difficulty has been my ability to focus on what’s being said and to absorb it. I understand now how when older people seem to be ‘somewhere else’, their actual problem is how to clarify the here and now of conversation. As I manage to identify what has been said, by the time I want to join the conversation, it has moved on. There can be an awkward silence when I make a contribution several subjects behind where the talk now finds itself.
Then there is what one might call a chain of inaction.
You think of doing something and in the process think of something else that needs seeing to and go for that, and then again and again other things, and you end up wondering what the original intention was. I have to work hard at resisting diversions.
And then of course there is failed memory, the curse of age. I have difficulty in remembering the recent past, less so the memories of childhood. As bad if not worse is the inability to remember the words I want to use – the image is clear in my mind but the actual word to covey is not, and if I get there at all it is by a series of connections. Embarrassing to others, immensely frustrating to me.
This is not a moan, but a fact sheet! It is how it is, and won’t get better. Ah well. Life continues to be good.