Passing on the skill of ageing

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Western society is adding to its current financial instability by creating ideal conditions for the physical and mental impairment of fully one third of its population.

However happily we approach it, retirement becomes less and less attractive the longer it goes on. Friendships that were rooted in the work place wither while those conducted at a distance dwindle. The lack of routine often turns life into incarceration rather than the revitalising and ongoing adventure it purported to be.

Whilst supporting charities that are searching for cures for Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease - which actually affects only a small percentage of retirees - younger members of society often place constraints on their perfectly capable elders. This completely misses the point that futility - the symptom most likely to breed imbecility - is something we can avoid for ourselves no matter what age we are.

Sports men and women whose active careers are over aren’t told it’s too late to take on other challenges. Many become coaches or commentators. Who better than those with active knowledge to devise and conduct training courses for future generations of apprentice athletes?

The irony is that WE ARE ALL apprenticed to aging. Who better than those already accredited and aware of the terrain to show us the ropes and help us map out the territory that longevity inhabits.

By not taking note of experienced, reflective, older people willing to share best practice, pass on vital skills and map out the most accessible route to take on the continuing journey of life, society is committing a deliberate act of self destruction.

As to retirees themselves, although illness at any age can cause decline, old age itself does not! But by choosing not to keep up to date with cultural and societal change and keep themselves fit they shoot themselves in the foot. Then again, if a person's later years are to be ignored, why bother to strive for longevity?

Ageing is the #METOO that impacts us all. By continuing to sideline older people, we are wasting an immensly valuable societal resource. And if we don’t get together soon to make ageing work, the cost of containment could bankrupt us.

One further thought. Research indicate that falls among older people cost the UK National Health Service around £2.3 billion per year (or more than £6 million per day). Yet the most recent research has also found that really active people over 70 yeas of age have the immune systems of 20 year olds and that being physically fit reduces the risk of dementia. Its not people’s age that causes falls, but the uneven surfaces and broken, wobbly slabs to be found on the majority of pavements. Unsurprisingly, people who are stepping it out at the time they meet with such protuberances or potholes are likely to fall and - when going at speed - will fall flat! Older people and toddlers tend to walk about their business more often than most other sectors of the population, ipso facto they are likely to fall more often than other sectors of the population.

Local authorities seem to see smooth road surfaces that cut wheel and tyre wear as good value for money. Surely smoothing out pedestrian surfaces to reduce wear and tear on the human frame is worthwhile expenditure too - especially since there is the quid pro quo that a large chunk of the amount the health service currently spends on injuries associated with falls would be cut if pavements were trip proof. Attacking the problem at pavement level would also stand on its head the false belief that a lack of stability occurs naturally with old age.

By proving that to be an an urban myth, the savings made could allow our streets to be paved with gold.

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About The Author

Janet Howd
Janet Howd

Janet Howd is a voice coach who works with corporate, academic, legal, theatrical and private clients in the UK, North America, Australia and Europe.