The Psychology of Growing Old: Looking Forward

The Psychology of Growing Old: Looking Forward

The Psychology of Growing Old: Looking Forward

The Psychology of Growing Old: Looking Forward

Excerpt

Looking forward — the
psychological challenge of later life

Age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress.

(Longfellow, Morituri Salutamus)

This book is about you, the reader. If you are not old now, you may be sooner than you think. Time really does seem to go faster the older you get; finding that one is ‘old’ catches most people by surprise. We generally don't feel old, so much as come to realize that that is how others see us. Ageing is a personal matter, for the writer and readers of this book alike.

I could never imagine getting old. I still can't, although I'm old. I still don't
feel that I've got to 73 yet, you know what I mean? I still don't realise I've
got to 73 because I don't feel 73.1 don't feel what I imagine 73 should be
like — you know.

(Thompson et al. 1991: 121)

But being old is relative, of course. Consider the headline in the Evening Standard — ‘The shock of the old’ — which suggested that the Queen, John Osborne, Mick Jagger and Cliff Richard were ‘suddenly showing their age’. Someone of the same generation as these public figures might wonder if the ‘shock’ might equally apply to him or herself, and have a closer look in the mirror. But to a teenager they have probably always seemed old. And how might they seem to a centenarian? And are people equally ‘old’ if they are the same age?

A 55-year-old friend of mine recently decided she's done enough for her
grown children and it was time she had some fun; she sold up in the
country and bought a flat in London. The couple she bought it from

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