Copyright : Domenico Condello

Many times in ones life one has the sense of having got older. When you are twenty you feel you are now an adult. When thirty that you have left behind your teens and are now more mature.In your forties you are in the prime of life and maturity reaching important points in your career and recognition for your value. As you turn fifty you have the sense of having covered half a century and the first intimations of age. By sixty you have probably retired and certain chronic ailments become your companions like Hypertension and Diabetes and you take recourse to managing your health which till then didn’t seem to matter. Medications help you to keep matters in control for greater longevity. Then as you approach seventy you feel age catching up inexorably. Reaching seventy in one piece is quite an achievement and you and your family and friends want to celebrate the event. You are now truly a senior citizen and there is no longer any doubt that you have aged and are old. By then your parents uncles and aunts have probably passed away and are only memories in photographs. As you proceed into the rapids of the seventies you hear of friends acquaintances and important personalities like political leaders, actors musicians artists etc becoming history one by one, people with whose work achievements and creations you have always been so familiar. You wonder where the great have disappeared and who is taking their place. Your world is changing beyond recognition and a new scenario is rapidly unfolding in which you may not truly belong. Also strangely you begin to get aware of the state of your organs, their deficiencies and level of efficiency – the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, prostate, mind. You no longer take them for granted but seek to keep them fighting fit with the constant help of modern medicine, facilities at premier hospitals an array of doctors and regular tests with which you were never earlier familiar. Many disabilities can accompany you in your seventies if you are not careful or lucky. Dread diseases rise up like demons to scare the hell out of you. If you are advancing in the seventies and, cancer,Alzheimer, Parkinson’s ,Multiple sclerosis stroke and heart attacks or pacemakers have not entangled you in their vice like grip you must be a lucky man. Most of your contemporary relatives have gone as also many of your dear friends and you live in an alien world where younger generations tend to steer clear of you at parties and events.

Of course you may be a writer and publish books, get the authorities to involve you say  in developing museums or provide guidance in your field of expertise and generally keep yourself positively engaged, health permitting. You may enjoy your leisure if financially sound by going to fairs concerts and clubs to play bridge for instance or you may join NGOs and charitable institutions. Alternately you may go into creeping depression with memories of the past if you still have memories left when in approaching dementia. You could also take to the bottle when all avenues appear closed.

Of course this is also the time when your children mature into middle age and passing fifty celebrate that event. Likewise your grandchildren are in their teens or early adulthood and that can be a source of great satisfaction to be alive to see that day. I wonder what happens when you survive to mark your eightieth birthday. They say that life can begin anew in the eighties if you happen to survive the rapids of the seventies. People can be quite mobile on a wheel chair, playing bridge and visiting people and places once you get used to it, or say if you get an extension of life with a pacemaker. Then i wonder what it must be like at ninety!! I have an aunt who just celebrated her ninetieth with gusto. She walks without aid and attends every family event from marriage to funerals. And mentally she is entirely there with a great sense of humour. A striking example of how to handle old age. Then i have two granduncles, brothers, the elder celebrated his hundredth birthday with a twinkle in his eye and readily accepted my offer of a cigarette to go with his drink. He walks with a stick and after a party goes to bed early, reminiscing about his life and times in a most engaging way. His brother 98 was there for the celebrations and moved around meeting everybody joyously recognising everybody and having to say something interesting to each one he met. What trail blazers! Alas the 98 year old uncle died on his birthday when chatting with his nephew who had rung him up to wish him. He refused to go to hospitals and was a doctor himself.

Somebody said take each day at a time and when you wake up thank the Lord god that you are alive and in one piece and look forward to the day with exciting plans of how you are going to enjoy yourself.