When you were young did you ever wonder what you’d be like at the age we are now?

I certainly didn’t. But if I had, I’m pretty sure I’d have assumed everything would be very settled and calm.   

It isn’t like that at all though, is it? 

We now know that this period of our life is full of transition and upheaval.

But the biggest part of ageing, I believe, is the fact that, to some extent, we’re the architect of the older person we’re becoming, and that lifestyle-decisions – sometimes taken decades ago – determine who and what we are.

I never gave that any thought either. But it’s foremost in my mind these days. 

Some of my friends laugh at my passion for positive ageing.

One woman said to me the other day: “Christine, we’re all going to die of something in the end”.

I think she was implying it was pointless trying to stay as fit as possible for as long as possible because death is inevitable. Well, of course it is.

But it’s how we live till then that interests me.  

I often write about the health messages we should follow if we want to have a chance of a fit, vibrant and viable older age. But today, let’s remind ourselves that the right mental attitude is crucial too.

And that we can help ourselves to stay young for longer, if we focus on what we still want to do and the abilities we still have, rather than dwell on what’s becoming more difficult. 

Realistically, there are loads of limitations on what we can still hope to do. I know I’ll never be a concert pianist or a war correspondent now!  

But I do feel it’s vital that we continue to pursue goals, and that we’re more likely to achieve them if we resist the impulse to let our birth date define us and start cutting back on our usual activities. 

Like me, I bet you hear other folk say: “I’m at the stage where…”.  Personally, I think this is a phrase to avoid as it tends to limit our expectations of ourselves, which is never good. 

So, let’s look at some of these so-called “stages”. 

I’m at the stage where I’ll never get the hang of apps

I sympathise with this and have had to wrestle with my own reluctance. But I now use apps for buying train tickets and car parking. And the truth is, as many of you have discovered, once you have installed the app and used it a few times, you realise how easy and convenient it is.

So, if you’ve been avoiding apps, I suggest you grab a grandchild and ask for a bit of tuition.

As a generation, we’ve firmly embraced the digital age. This is just another part of it.   

I’m at the stage where I don’t want to go out at night

This is an understandable comment, especially in winter. But don’t let it become a habit all year round.

One of the best ways of staying youthful is to mix with younger people. And we can’t do that if we never leave home after 6pm – because most of them are working till then.

Eating with friends and family from different generations, or taking a mixed-age exercise class, can be much more fun than doing everything with our own age group.

And venturing out to be entertained at a comedy or jazz club, theatre or cinema tends to generate a real lift in mood. If we don’t get out, our horizons shrink, and this is sad and very ageing. 

I’m at the stage where driving is a worry; I think I’ll give up 

I know some people reading this column have medical conditions that prevent them driving.

That’s tough, and obviously they don’t have any other option. Others of you live in towns or cities and hate how much traffic there is and find parking increasingly difficult. I can appreciate that for you it may be sensible to give up as you probably have reliable public transport anyway. 
But vast numbers of us live in rural areas and that’s a totally different ball game.  

A cousin of mine, who lives in a tiny, remote village, cut up her license and sold her car. Now, she has to rely on neighbours to take her to choir practice, her art class and the supermarket. This isn’t working out at all well and she really regrets her decision. 

It’s natural as we age to become nervous.

After all, we’re much more aware of potential danger than when we were young and felt impervious to harm. But there is help for people over 60 who are concerned about whether or not they’re still safe behind the wheel.   

Norfolk has a scheme called Guidance for Older Drivers:  https://bit.ly/3UcpLQg

And Suffolk has Suffolk Road Safe: https://suffolkroadsafe.com/road-users-home/drivers-home/older-drivers/

Give them a try before you give up on driving. 

It’s crazy to impose limitations on ourselves if we don’t need to.

We’ve got a lot of living to do yet.

So, let’s “boldly go” while we still can.