There are a couple of things in life that we know, at some stage, we will be worried about. Growing old certainly seems to be one of them. More and more, our culture is becoming obsessed by the cult of youth. Not only are film stars and musicians young and beautiful, but increasingly, politicians and newsreaders are getting younger also. Add to this the extraordinary lengths to which the not so young among the elite are going to maintain their youth and appear young and you will quickly see why so many people are becoming distressed about growing old.
There is one thing that people have known, at varying levels, for centuries however. This is that old age is a state of mind. Therefore, the secret to staying young lies also in the mind and not in the body. When someone mentions Madonna, we don’t think about old age or an elderly woman, but is this because she still looks quite young, or because she is as active and controversial as ever, releasing hit albums and doing what she has always done? In many senses it is a combination of the two, but I would propose that it is the young mind that keeps the body young rather than the other way around.
There are many things that you can do to keep your mind young and active. One is to keep up the old hobbies and pastimes that you have enjoyed for your whole life. Try to keep physically active. Consider walking and swimming which are less stressful on joints and bones than some other activities.
At the end of the day, it is not such a young person’s world out there. The charity. Help the Aged, defines the elderly as anyone above the age of 50. There are many 50 year olds around who would defy this but the fact is that many people, by this age, are already preparing for retirement. Age discrimination has also been recognised by the government who in 2006, will bring into force the age discrimination act that outlaws discrimination on the basis of age in the workplace.
Also, the over 50 age group is not only the fastest growing segment of the population, but 80% of the nation’s wealth is owned by the over 50s. They are also one of the freest and least tied down segments of the population. As society’s attitudes change towards old age, perhaps the time is coming to let loose and enjoy old age for all the potentialities it provides.