Signs of Ageing

‘Engage’ is a mutual company which apparently offers financial products and support services with an aim ‘to exceed expectations and have a positive impact on our customers and their communities’, whatever that means. They have been plummeted into media attention by a recent survey they carried out on the signs of ageing. They interviewed 2,000 people across all age ranges. The Daily Telegraph, The Times and the Daily Mail featured articles about the ‘Fifty signs of Ageing’ last week.

I think there are about 30 of the suggested signs which apply to me and perhaps one or two others that I am either not prepared to admit to, or which were apparent for a long time before ageing set in. Amongst the latter are our membership of the National Trust, my need of an after lunch nap, the fact that I don’t know any songs in the top ten and my frequent complaining about the rubbish on television. Then there are the suggested signs which I am determined shall not be true of me, like a keen interest in the Antiques Roadshow, preferring a night in with a board game than a night on the town, using the phrase ‘it wasn’t like that when I was young’, listening to the daily dose of the Archers on BBC radio, and falling asleep after one glass of wine.

A spokesman for Engage Mutual says that it is interesting that the general expectation across age groups is that someone in the ‘older’ age bracket will look and behave in a particular way, (though I suspect that the questionnaires were drafted in such a way as to encourage such a conclusion). ‘We know there are serious issues as we approach old age, in that we can run out of time to prepare ourselves to meet the potential physical, mental and financial challenges. But it doesn’t have to be bad news. Some describe the years over 50 as the best in their lives sp far’.

I would say ‘different’ rather than ‘best’, but of course it depends on what the first fifty years have been like; in the main for me they were good. I went to college and was trained for my work and lived amongst men of my own age, some of us still in touch with each other. I got married and we had three wonderful children. My work was absorbing and brought me into touch with a variety of people, gave me particular responsibilities and involved us as a family in learning new regional cultures in Bristol, Bradford, Nottingham and Wolverhampton, each interesting in their different ways. We made friends that have lasted through the years. The 32 years as I grew older were more challenging, with greater responsibilities followed by the greatest challenge of all : what to do with retirement.

Engage suggest that you can prepare for old age.

An interesting idea, but how is it to be done? I think it will always be a mystery but one that shouldn’t be allowed to encompass us. All you can do is meet it as it comes.