Another myth has just been busted. Negative headlines about the elderly feeling lonely abound in the media – all too often the two Ps are presented as though they’re inextricably linked (Pensioners and Problems). But according to the Office for National Statistics, older people are actually the happiest members of society and have a good sense of their self-worth.
Of course, we seniors won’t be able to gloat about this, for fear of alienating the under-35s, one in five of whom (according to the ONS) are suffering from depression, anxiety, limited job satisfaction, and a lack of somewhere to live away from their parents.
While all this may be true, and a scarcity of affordable housing continues to have a hugely negative impact on society, should older people go around feeling guilty that they living in their own homes, enjoying holidays and learning new skills?
I get up each morning feeling extremely happy to be alive. I suffer from no guilt, having worked continuously from the age of 21. Youth has one advantage, though: young people can actually get straight out of bed in the morning, bend their knees, run for the bus and take the stairs at the station or the office two at a time.
The only downside to ageing is lack of mobility. First thing every day, I operate at a snail-like pace, shuffling along until my knees have loosened up. Pre-10am, I feel about 85; between 11am and 5pm, I’m 24; and then it’s a slow slide back to over 60 by 11pm, when I start to switch off.
Truthfully, surveys which try to compute physical fitness and mental wellbeing can never be accurate, unless they are measured on an hourly basis. By the way, according to a new study, old people still grow as many new brain cells as the young – so calling us forgetful and vague is perpetuating another patronising myth we’d do well to get rid of.
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