Living Past Ninety (age 90)
by Sheila White
(Cambridge, Ontario, Canada)
This year I will reach the amazing age of ninety. I don’t know why I have lived longer than anyone else in my family. I didn’t ask for this and neither did my husband who also lived to ninety. This could be something wished on us by a benevolent God. But I wonder why.
Ninety seems to be the new eighty. No one is surprised by it anymore. But what are we doing with those extra ten years?
I know of few folk who achieved anything worthwhile after the age of eighty. Of course, there is the amazing Hazel McCallion, former mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, who seems to be indestructible; and there is the current 90-year-old Queen Elizabeth, also her late mother, who lived to be a hundred. But how much effect does British royalty have on the running of the country? Only their advisors know.
We 90-year-olds are a burden on society. The nursing homes and hospitals who previously were delighted at the spotlight our birthdays shone on them, are now pressured to squeeze more of us into their ever-shrinking space. It has become a struggle for them to provide us with the tender, loving care that our families insist upon.
Our governments labour constantly to find the resources to keep us alive. None of us imagined we would live so long, therefore we are running out of personal funds since we only worked 45 or 50 years in which we could save enough to keep us alive another 30 following retirement!
How about health? Thanks to the information we have learned from such modern-day sources as television and the internet, we now know how to eat and exercise so that we can live a healthier life. Thus many of us toiled those hazardous years from 40 to 80 avoiding pitfalls like overweight and high blood pressure. But following 80, things change.
For my husband, it was heart disease and prostate cancer. For myself it is back and hip pain that forces me to use a walker; plus a swallowing problem that prevents me from enjoying a normal meal in company. I can no longer go everywhere and eat anything without careful planning. And I am one of the lucky ones!
I try not to complain, but these things were not part of my life until I turned eighty. Walking freely and eating without restrictions made a sometimes challenging life more enjoyable.
And so, should we go along pampering ourselves for those extra ten years? It seems to illustrate that old cliché that says:
We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t!
Or should we approach it another way, as in a verse I remember from my childhood that went:
Let’s eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die! Nay, rather, let us join hands and help, for today we are to live together.
As always, it’s your choice.