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Health, Sports & Psychology

The Silverville Diaries: Age and the Ageing Process

Updated Wednesday 5th August 2009

As he lives with the residents of Lovat Fields Bart Cope considers age - from both ends of the spectrum.

“How have I kept this healthy at 91? Eat a lot of tomatoes.”

I moved into a retirement village at the age of 26. Since becoming 27, a degree of reflection upon my age and future was inevitable. I had never considered my own age before, it is just not something I thought about. What difference did it make to me how old I was? From being here, I have had both feelings of there being many exciting years ahead of me, but also fears that time is running out.

When you see people approaching their 90s, yet are still fit and active and seemingly enjoying life, I think bloody hell what’s the rush to do everything now, I still have another 60 years of life to live yet. It is something that is hard to fathom, having that many years ahead. What’s going to happen to me in the next 60 years? What will my life be like? What will I achieve? I have started to realise age is just a concept. Physical afflictions can affect your life at any age, they are just more likely in older life. What is important is how you live your life and what you do. Do you stay active and busy or do you retreat in to yourself? These are things that you can decide yourself, it is your age that decides that. I have found the residents that do the most and stay sociable and active seem to get the most of their lives and I think this is true for me at my age now, as well as in the future.

I am confronted by the ageing process on a daily basis. I go to people’s apartments and look at photos of them when they were younger and sometimes I can see no resemblance what-so-ever. How will I look in forty or fifty year’s time? What sort of ailments will I get? My joints seem to make a lot of noise when I stand up now so god only knows how much arthritis I will have in later life. I have had to wear glasses since I was 14, so I can only imagine how bad my eyesight will get, I might even end up blind.

I guess what living here has made me really think about is, am I looking forward to getting old? The answer to that is simple. Not really. It seems to be a question of pot luck. If you are lucky, you live to a ripe old age with little or no problems at all, enjoying life to the full. On the other side it can be a very lonely existence where you don’t get to do much living in any meaningful way, depending completely on others to survive.

Some people say to me that being surrounded by so many elderly people must make me feel young. Well no, quite the opposite in fact. I have been absorbed into their world, living the lives they lead and conversing with them about the things they talk about. Sometimes if I go back home and see my friends I think I am boring and that I have nothing to contribute to conversations. I feel I am out of touch with them. I have been living here for so long now, I don’t know any difference. Then I realise I am writing this at quarter to midnight and still can’t sleep much before the start of the new day. I can’t be that old yet.

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