Friday Reflection: When did I suddenly get old?

COVID-19 is particularly dangerous for older people, which makes this baby boomer pause to acknowledge that she is one of that group.

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.


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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    17th Apr 2020
    I'm not going to grow old, I'm just going to die one day.
    17th Apr 2020
    That's deep Snowflake
    18th Apr 2020
    I decided that I'm going to live forever and I'm doing ok so far.
    20th Apr 2020
    Great attitude, Snowflake. That's what keeps you young in spirit. Feeling good is the secret to life.
    17th Apr 2020
    the mind isnt old but the body ............ well thats another issue
    17th Apr 2020
    18th Apr 2020
    Yes tisme, I know the feeling
    17th Apr 2020
    I empathise with Dianne. I feel 40 ish not 70 ish. I gave up mirrors and shop windows in particular because I was being stalked by this little grey haired old lady - god she was annoying.
    So thanks for the manners, but please, leave off the platitudes and put downs - we don't all automatically get altzhiemers oe dementia with our OAP. So tone it down people please. TREAT US LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE
    1st Aug 2020
    Agree totally with you Veritas as I an 82 with Health issues but I am hanging in for my Telegram at 100 so have made up my mind about that ! HA!HA! Dotty
    17th Apr 2020
    I know mirrors don`t lie!.......................But mine laughs ??
    82 and feeling great (even in CORONA !)
    17th Apr 2020
    Onya Berry.
    17th Apr 2020
    Completely agree Dianne. Last term I was a fit, healthy, energetic casual teacher who got plenty of work. Next term I’ll be ‘elderly’ and ‘at risk’ and won’t be allowed anywhere near kids.
    17th Apr 2020
    Hi Fed up too I was doing relief up until 2018.But now 82 has crept up on me (although very fit and healthy and still have my TEACHERS REGISTRATION credentials)I don`t think I`too will be able to teach relief unless I can contribute to ONLINE at home class teaching !
    18th Apr 2020
    Thanks, and well done for teaching as long as you did!
    18th Apr 2020
    Me too, Fedup! Had casual teaching work booked for March, April and May, but at 72 was told by doctor to stay home. By the time I'm allowed to work aagian (if at all) CPR and anaphylaxis requirements will be out of date. I haven't really felt "elderly" till now.
    Chris B T
    18th Apr 2020
    You don't need to be in 60 plus range, at 48 year old tradesman told your to old to be doing this Job. It was a Part Time Job 20 hrs a week 5 mins from home, a bit dirty not a demanding job.
    I didn't wont full time work with long travel times to where I was living, my choice.
    So how old do you feel now that was early 2000's.
    18th Apr 2020
    I define getting old as no longer being relevant to society. No longer making a difference. No longer being an influence in our little corner of our community. Helping others is the key! Volunteering a few hours a week in an Op shop, making things at home for a charity, looking after grand-kids, whatever. Looking outwards rather than inwards.
    Hello Dolly
    18th Apr 2020
    Well written Di - I know what you mean for us 55 + fit and fabulous gals. I like to say the defination of old is 10 years older than you are right now !
    20th Apr 2020
    That's the spirit, Dolly! Use it or lose it.

    My husband (nearly 66) has just gone off for a surf (he's very good at it - all the professional surfers say g'day to him). His brother, nearly 75, still surfs well, too! And both surf thrusters (short boards) - none of this long board stuff, that's for the "oldies" and less abled.

    At nearly 60, I feel like the world is my oyster. My time has come to really shine and be myself, unemcumbered by issues that preoccupied me when I was younger. I'm not old but now I really know I'm alive, something that eluded me when I was younger. What's that old saying: "Youth is wasted on the young"?
    19th Apr 2020
    I totally agree. The overseas media has put us all in a box (before our time) by calling us "elderly" yet they do not say "a young or middle aged person" has had a car accident etc and it has followed through to persons at cash registers etc.They get a age number. I googled it and only 10 percent of Australians over 85 have dementia . My friend gets cranky and said "Don't call me dear". We were taught to "respect our elders" and would never call them "dear" but I guess they mean well.Kaye
    Golden Oldie
    20th Apr 2020
    Back in February I was busy with Excel and Word classes, card games, quilting, lunching out, coffee and chat groups, and felt life was really good. Now I have turned into a couch potato, on my own, and only sometimes breaking out to do some necessary shopping. Spending much to much commenting on Facebook. When is this pandemic going to end?? If it lasts much longer I may need a wheelchair or walking device to walk any distance. Please don't suggest a walk in the sunshine, have had too many falls so I don't like to partake in this excercise alone.
    13th Jun 2020
    Golden Oldie, have you tried a walker?
    Just over two years ago when a daughter was coming here to visit, I said to a nurse friend of mine that I was sad that I would not be able to keep up with plans to show her around.
    My friend got hold of an old walker, and said "try this".
    I had to put my pride in my pocket and I have never looked back.
    It's marvellous to be able to sit on it for a bit of a rest. I keep essentials in its pocket, hang my shopping on the handles, sit on it when I am watering my garden, take my washing out to the line on it. A walker is a wonderful thing!

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