Older Women Should Be Recognised And Celebrated

Are you a Baby Boomer? Were you born immediately after the war? If so you are part of the rapidly swelling ranks of the UK’s over 50’s! Perhaps you’ve reached the ripe old age of 60? If you are in your 70’s you may include me in your number! It can be great fun to be in your 70’s because:

Nowadays no-one expects you to run – anywhere – anymore!
There is not a lot left to learn- the hard way!
Things you buy now – probably won’t wear out!
Your investment in health insurance – is finally paying off!
Your eyes won’t get – much worse!
You can live without sex – but not your glasses!
Most women realise there are 5 stages to her life…….
The first stage is to grow up
Second is to fill out
The third to slim down!
Fourth to hold it all in
And the fifth is finally to say – “what the hell with it!”

But that needn’t be. When I look at the 50+ age group, I see the majority feeling happy, positive and getting on with life. But sadly feel I there is a small minority who still feel extremely negative about ageing.

At this stage in life people seem to fall into 3 categories – those who
• Make it happen
• Watch it happen
• Wonder what the hell happened!

Personally I feel that being both 70 years old and female, at this particular moment in history is exciting and a challenge. I’m confident with my maturity, and I’ve finally come around to accepting myself – warts and all! Positive agers like me, relish individualism, are open-minded and eager to embrace all the opportunities that life still has to offer.
But don’t lets underestimate ourselves, we’ve still got lots to offer – and we mature folk should be called – “Chronologically advantaged!”

Older women should be recognised and celebrated. Old age used to be revered – still is – in many societies throughout the world today. But in the UK this attitude is in decline and Ageism is an ugly fact of modern life.

Modern woman in particular is a powerful force to be reckoned with! For a start, it’s only we women who can “multi-task” isn’t it? Strong women have influenced many events in past history, Eliz 1st, Mrs Thatcher, and we all know for a fact that behind every successful man will be found a strong woman! (It can also be said that behind every successful man, lies a very surprised mother-in-law)

For myself, I am a single, happy, confident and independent woman. I am physically, mentally and sexually active and love the challenge of modern life. Being alone (but not often lonely), with my family having grown and flown, I have the opportunity to do as I please. I can travel; make new friends, reacquaint myself with old ones anywhere in the world. The upside of finding yourself on your own is that on a whim you can change direction without upsetting anybody. I now find I have more time to go to the gym, play tennis, tend my garden, paint my oil paintings, or just mess about on boats.

Of course ageing is inevitable. A depressing thought. Nothing we can do about it. Or is there? We’ve no control over our destined life span, our quantity of life – but we do have a certain control over the quality of our lives. We can’t add years to life, but we can add life to the years. Cynically it could also be said that although plenty of exercise and a healthy diet CAN add years to life – unfortunately they will be at the end of life – when we’re too old to enjoy them!

A great many people do age well. Although, it has been said that the only way to get a true picture of the natural ageing process would be to do a study of ageing – in a Nunnery! With the gracious nuns as subjects, who have kept out of the sun and lived their lives free from vice! Bit boring?

In the UK a woman’s life expectancy is now 81 years, men 77. Men who make it to 65 can expect to live to 82. Women to 85 so she can expect to enjoy some 30 years of postmenopausal life – that’s another third of her life! Age itself doesn’t matter, age is irrelevant. Age is just a number. Many older people are healthier and more capable than younger people nowadays.

We live in a stimulating, although uncertain time in history. Maintaining good health enables us to pursue some of our ambition hopes and dreams. Compared to previous generations we have a better standard of living and people are living longer. And, thanks to medical advances there is less threat of death, or serious disability, from insidious diseases such as smallpox, polio and some cancers.

Gone too are the social and economic restrictions of past generations.

Education, careers, opportunities and travel are available to most – irrespective of age, gender, colour, class or creed. Far from this being a time of life to switch off, to settle down to a boring and quiet retirement, this is an age in which there is every opportunity to indulge oneself, pursue a lifelong hobby, get conversant with computers, or even to have the courage to start out on a second career or relationship.
Growing older is not a disease, it happens to all of us.
But thankfully the image of age is changing.

Let me introduce you to traditional Gran, grey haired, bent back sipping her cup of tea, she stares into the tea leaves – into her future. What future? She’s served her purpose. She was a full time housewife, conscientiously looked after the home, cared for her husband, and reared her family – putting their needs before her own. She has her memories, but she feels old and past it. She’s how old? Could be 50 or 80 – it’s difficult to say.

Contrast her with her daughter, who is also a Gran, but lives a very different life. Modern Gran is upright and active, I can associate with her. And the cup she might be holding? It could be an award for achievement at work or sport. She’s taken care of her family and herself. She’s maintained her health. She is active and interesting, more wealthy and wise, and likely to be financially independent. Just by looking it’s difficult to tell just how old she is. She expects to remain both physically and sexually active for many more years – unheard of in Trad Gran’s day!

Inactivity is a major risk factor in old age and many older people need to be more active. Do any activity that gives you pleasure. It will boost energy levels, gets the circulation going and bring colour to your complexion! Good food and regular exercise can get the circulation going, puts a spring in your step and make the cheeks glow!
Why is it so many young people think sex is their preserve? They appear to still have the outdated view, the preconceived notion, that anyone over 40 is past it and assume mature people do not, or cannot, indulge in sex. How wrong they are! But I wonder when we look back…. did we think that our own sexual activities would be diminished – or completely finished by the time we were forty?

Recently on BBC Breakfast Time a young cosmetic surgeon appeared alongside me to promote his book on cosmetic surgery. He inferred that people as they aged needed surgery in order to attract the opposite sex… So I asked him his age. He was 49!! I was incensed and assured him I’m still sexually active and challenged his theory that older women without surgery were unattractive and unable to enjoy life!!!! My granddaughter Lucy then aged 7, texted me in the car on the way home from the studio. “Grandma what does sexually active mean?” (Think her Dad – my son Tim put her up to it!). I replied that I would tell her when she was older…

I am a super active 70 year-old, and feel blessed with my 4 grandchildren to whom I am affectionately known as “GG. (In my TV world it used to stand for Green Goddess – but it now stands for Granny Goddess!) The grandchildren have made me acutely conscious of time passing, and human fragility, and the need to live it to the full. I am constantly reminded of my own granny, who when I was a little girl told me “Live for the day – but keep a cautious eye to the future”

Now wrinkles, I had not planned for at this age, they just happened, as they do for most of us! But I suppose they’re why so many women (and increasingly men) do resort to expensive cosmetic surgery. In the vain hope of holding onto their youth

This preoccupation with youth is becoming a major influence, on other young people, in other societies, throughout the world. And, if this isn’t bad enough, here in the UK we are spawning a generation of couch potato children. We are rearing offspring; many of who won’t be fit enough in their adult lives, to support us, their sprightly parents, and feisty grandparents in our old age. How worrying is that? It does make me wonder if they are so unfit, just who is going to be able to pay for older people’s pensions in the future. Pensioners now outnumber children for the first time in British history. Scary thing is that

all too soon there will be 2 generations of over 60’s alive – and all in need of pensions.
Is there a need to have more children?
Should we use the resources of older people more?
Should everyone work until 70?
Times are a changing, and we mature folk mustn’t allow ourselves to be brushed aside, and labelled “too old”. Nor let ourselves become invisible in society. We must stick together, keep our minds sharp and have the courage to take the opportunity to make ourselves be seen, and to be heard whenever possible.
United, empowered and with one strong voice, we stand much more chance of influencing issues including government policy, in areas such as health, housing and pensions.
I for one don’t intend to sit down and shut up.

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