Hitting the Big Six-Oh

At the risk of sounding like a rambling old woman, I would like to go ahead and ramble anyway! I feel rambling at this time will help me cope more easily with how I am currently feeling.

Why am I feeling the need to unleash my feelings so publicly? Well, the answer is that until last August, I was happy to be me. The woman I have lived with for over 60 years. An agile, energetic and positive person.

The woman who strides (and bops) along purposefully rather than walk sedately, the woman who munches happily on a large (150g) bag of crisps (daily) without worrying about the consequences to her health, who bakes cakes and devours them all by herself irrespective of the calories count, who enjoys pottering in the garden without needing any aids whatsoever, she who loves a good read, who enjoys watching umpteen re-runs of Columbo and takes care (reluctantly) of ‘her’ cat Pixie Peanut.

However, Since August 2018, I have come to the realisation that I am no longer that ‘girl’ and can no longer do much of the above without facing bothersome hurdles. I’m not sure why within the space of one year, so many changes have taken place, but I must reluctantly face the glaring fact that I am no longer young, but………. newly old!

As such, I have to work out a strategy before getting in (or out), of the car. In addition, I have to give myself a few minutes extra in which to do so. I have to allow myself 15 minutes thinking time before I manage to prise myself out of my special ‘Columbo watching’ armchair. I can now look at huge bars of Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut without drooling and wishing to do a smash and grab of the store window! My first thought now is, can my teeth take the punishment! I can no longer understand how I used to drink gallons of Coke and Pepsi and eat a mountain of Ferrero Rocher for pleasure. Looking at these now, makes me feel ill.

I have had to buy a kneeling pad for weeding, and a handrail to help me up after re-potting all the pots! I have also purchased a small watering can with an extra-long nozzle to water my indoor plants as standing on tip toe is no longer doing the trick.  I seem to have shrunk an inch or so (if that is possible), which is terribly worrying when you start out being 4’11” in the first place!

I keep forgetting where I have put my phone and glasses and have to phone from the landline to locate the phone! Sadly, the IT nerds have not yet (to my knowledge), come up with a similar way to find ones misplaced glasses, but I am hopeful they will soon!  I am unable to read books without large print. Watching TV is not as enjoyable as it once was as I can’t see the screen so clearly (even with specs)! However, this means that my lifetime hero Columbo, looks even more youthful than before as I can’t see his wrinkles in the later episodes!

I receive more letters from the NHS for various appointments (including for hearing tests), than I do from Saga Holidays or Pension Wise! I am no longer able to wear ordinary and heeled shoes without my feet hurting. The shoes I can wear have to be extra wide (Clarks extra wide in an F please)! I look at women in their 70s at the bus stop, and admire their footwear for looking so comfy and have to prevent myself asking where they got them from!

The thought of standing at the cooker for more than 10 minutes is unbearable as my knees have begun to protest at the abuse they face daily. The idea of having to bend down to retrieve cakes from the oven is unwelcome as I worry that I won’t be able to get up again! I can’t face going out as having to climb the stairs to get my coat is just too much effort. I stand at the bottom of the stairs and look up as if I am facing climbing Everest! How did I use to zoom up those same stairs dozens of times a day without getting even slightly breathless?  Due to this, I have got into the habit of just chucking my coat in the under-stairs cupboard on standby! The idea of getting a stair lift is increasingly appealing and I am tempted to look into this as a matter of some urgency. I don’t think I have ever looked forward to inviting any sales people into my home for a quote as much as the chaps from Stannah!

Facing crowds in the January sales which I used to love (the sales I mean, not the crowds), feels like being punished. Pushing and shoving (and that’s just me), and facing long queues is no longer something I can bear. I got shoved last week, and every bone in my body shook and rattled!

Everywhere I go now, the first thing I look for is the location of the ladies! I make sure I do not wander off too far from the loos, as you just never know when you are going to have an emergency situation! So for that reason alone, most of my window shopping takes place in Stratford Shopping Centre near Goldsmiths due to their vicinity to the ladies restrooms! Better to be safe than sorry methinks!

And don’t even get me started on the sock wearing thing! My once nimble joints, will no longer allow me to bend forward enough to grab a foot while at the same time, attempt to put a sock on it (some may unkindly say after reading this, that I should put a sock in it)! Cutting toe nails, once an easy (and even happy task), is a marathon waiting to be undertaken. It seems to take more time than it does to watch a whole episode of ‘The Antiques Roadshow’ or ‘Dragons’ Den’! In fact, I think that competitors on Masterchef could produce a three course meal faster than the time it takes me to reach toe 8!

My GP has suggested I cut down on my meat consumption (due to my age) and start eating healthily. Also that I should start taking vitamins and going for long walks for the same reason. Problems with my feet are also being attributed to my age as are my stiff arms, painful knees and aching back. It seems that the moment we go over 60, we are considered ‘elderly’ or ‘over the hill’ or ‘past it’. It has been suggested I get a flu vaccine and a test to check the density of my bones in case of them breaking. Anyone would think I am too fragile to leave home now!

I must admit though that in-spite of all my ‘Victor(ia) Meldrew (esque) moaning, being 60+ also has its advantages. In Bodgers, I used to get an extra 10% off on ‘Senior Citizens’ Tuesdays! I get free eye tests, free prescriptions, have a Freedom Pass and even have people get up for me on the tube! On holiday in Dubai last year, I got into lots of places free by admitting to being ‘elderly’!

Another good thing about being newly old is that it doesn’t (happily) prevent me from fully undertaking my duties at RCYPN. I still tear around as usual and, in fact, aim to be even more energetic as need to prove to myself (and others) that I haven’t completely lost the plot (or my ‘mojo’) yet!

I feel eligible in working on new initiatives needing people of a ‘certain’ age. ‘Intergenerational Work’ involving ‘older’ people as well as children is now right up my street. Although I am not yet a grandparent (unless you count Pesky Pixie Peanut as a surrogate grand-child), I am very interested in being involved in activities involving ‘senior citizens’ as now have first-hand experience of knowing what this entails!

So overall, getting old is not such a bad deal after all! Just waiting now for free dental treatment to arrive! New dentures, here I come! Roll on 70!


London Borough of RedbridgeNHS Redbridge Clinical Commissioing GroupLondon CouncilsMayor of LondonEuropean Social FundSkills Funding Agency  Big Lottery