When did I suddenly get old?

This week, we introduce a new category of articles called Friday Reflection. This is your chance to write on any topic that stirs you. Simply send your contribution to [email protected] and put Friday Reflection in the subject field. The editor will select one offering to run each week. This week, Dianne Motton is in the chair.

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When did I suddenly get old? Was it just four weeks ago?

I don’t feel old. I move well. I bike ride, I swim. I hold down a job (well, at least at the moment). But everywhere around me the coronavirus and the media have me in the geriatric category – over the hill, one foot in the grave, nearly about to kick the bucket, drop off my perch, all the euphemisms for nearly dead.

Now I am also described as elderly. Elderly. I feel affronted being labelled like this, the  connotations of helplessness surely not applying to me.

When the virus first appeared, my sick joke early on was that this was all a millennial plot to knock us baby boomers off so they could inherit a house or multiples thereof. But, of course, that was tasteless and unfounded. One day they will inherit our assets, but not just yet.

Everywhere the media are telling us to stay inside, confine ourselves to our houses, so we don’t get exposed because our age places us at higher risk. I look at the statistics and shake my head in horror and disbelief. The statistics in this case do not lie.

This is all very confronting stuff, not just on a health, existential level, but also on our perception of ourselves, our very way of defining who we are.

I dare say that none of us feel our age, that we see ourselves quite differently from the strange face that peers out from the mirror in the morning, or that we catch a glimpse of in the shop window as we hurry by. Surely, we aren’t that thin/fat/stooped/grey-haired figure? We think we are still in our 20s, or at least young of mind, agile enough to do a sudoku, to hold our own in a discussion with our adult children and to manage our daily lives, fiercely independent and capable.

Yet a new reality knocks on the door and some adjustments have to be made. Perhaps it doesn’t matter what label is applied to us as long as we stay safe and stay alive. Perceptions after all are just in our head.

Have you also railed against the concept that you are one of the ‘elderly’, one of those most at risk from COVID-19?

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Written by Dianne Motton

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