i Editor's Letter: What lies ahead


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The Independent Online


A few readers have chided me for what they said was my overly pessimistic attitude towards old age, expressed here yesterday as I wittered on about Prince Philip and his bladder ailment. Allowing for what I had thought was a clear tongue-in-cheek tone, your views struck a chord with me.

I know all this "50 being the new 30" stuff. In fact a friend of mine has even launched high50.com, a brand and website devoted to the notion that "age has its benefits".

Of course, if we only knew then what we know now, eh? We can all think how we might have applied later-life "wisdom" to our carefree youth, misspent or not. But none can turn back the clock, and so we must deal with what lies ahead.

As I've said, the toughest thing for me is the diminishing memory power. I mentioned this first as a joke, but if it was a joke it has now backfired. I find this much harder to deal with than any diminished physical prowess. I'm convinced I can stay physically fit through swimming and yoga (it works for Ryan Giggs), but my bigger fear is any loss of mental acuity.

Before you all write in, I KNOW that this doesn't always happen, but this is my column, my fears. I relish seeing the girls grow and the prospect of my future family, but I dread pension penury and working into my twilight years.

This is not meant to appear pessimistic. I am convinced – with little evidence – that by the time I am an OAP, we will have evolved a more caring, respectful attitude towards our elderly. If only we afforded a fraction of the respect given to the Queen these past days to all older people, our society would be so much the healthier for it – for our young and old alike.