Old Age



We all go through many stages of life, one of the most important as far as I’m concerned is ‘Old Age’. Of course I’m now fully qualified to write about ‘Old Age’, as a practising Senior citizen. If someone was to inquire, ‘How will you know when you are officially classified as ‘Old’? Well that’s easy, there are several clues and changes that you will experience. The start of it’s onset it could be with young people you encounter at Banks, or other official places of Business, Medical Centres even. When these employees start to greet you as, ‘Dear’ or ‘Love’, something they wouldn’t have dared have done a few years back. Also, some young shop assistants have trouble seeing you. It must be another effect with growing ‘Old’. You sometimes become partially invisible. Some seem to think that as well as you are ‘Old’, and exhibiting symptoms of frailty, you must also be hard of hearing or deaf. So they talk loudly to you, just like they do when dealing with foreigners.


We are also treated differently by Politicians, they need to be reminded from time to time, that your vote doesn’t become invalid with age. I came into contact with this thinking when I turned eighty years of age. I was told on reaching this milestone, I was now required to take an mandatary biannual eye sight test, this was to commence at eighty, plus an extensive medical exam, and finally a comprehensive practical driving test.


Everyone involved clipped my ticket, presenting me with a substantial bill for each step. To say I was annoyed, would be an understatement. So I immediately sat down and wrote a terse letter to the then Minister of Transport, who at the time was the Honourable Ruth Dyson. In it I explained that I wanted to know why authorities were picking on the ‘Old People’, when the facts and statistics didn’t support the situation. We didn’t get drunk, hoon around in our cars, have accidents, and write ourselves off with poor driving habits. Further more, if they were really so anxious to test a group of people that had more accidents than any other section of our population, and as well exhibited a very bad driving record. Take a hard look at the Police. They it would seem to have the worst driving record of any section of the New Zealand population. I must have touched a nerve as she replied immediately. She thanked me for my letter, and said that they were looking into the current legislation that was annoying me. True to her word, a year later she wrote again, and said the biannual driving test for eighty years and older would be abolished before the end of this current year. A great a win for the ‘Old Fogies’. I still had to pay $35 for a medical, plus a nominal sum for the reissue of a new licence.


I had found it initially difficult driving in the City for the first time, as 99% of my driving (Some 75 years ) had always been in the country where stop lights, stop signs, and all the other City restrictions, just didn’t exist. But I did know how to drive in snow and ice, and on gravel roads. I had never had an accident or made an Insurance claim. Even with this back ground I very nearly failed my first ‘retest’. During the test I came to a Compulsory Stop, I drove a metre past the yellow line before I came to a halt. The Instructor ponced. He said, ‘I will have to fail you for this mistake’. ‘Why did you drive past the yellow line by at least a metre’? I replied, ‘Because there was a tree blocking my line of sight where the yellow lines are painted on the road’. ‘So I stopped where I could actually see if the way was clear’. ‘I actually thought you would condone this action’. But he said, ‘You should have stopped at the yellow line regardless’. ‘That’s the Official Line’. I wondered about this, and wanted to say. ‘Where do they recruit people as stupid as you, to carry out testing’? But under the circumstances, I thought it more prudent just to bite my Tongue. He sat quiet for a few minutes while he pondered over my conduct and reason, at last it would seem common sense prevailed. ‘Perhaps this man has a point’. He then decided to forgive me, and we resumed the test.


In my youth, people living to an Old Age were not a problem. Not many did. On reaching 60 years of age, many of those working in heavy manual occupations which most did most were exhausted, and worn out physically. They without fail, soon shuffled off to an early grave. However today, as a result of excellent medical attention, good knowledge of what constitutes a healthy diet, plus machines to do the heavy ‘Donkey’ work, it’s not unusual for most of the population to live well into their eighties or nineties. The result of this is we have hundreds of these, who are now deemed, ‘Old People’. Problem! What are we going to do with them all? Why put them into ‘Homes’ of course. Buy up large numbers of Lazy Boy Chairs, arrange them in a circle, and leave them all sitting and awaiting their final call to shuffle on. From time to time Groups call to entertain. They are a special breed, all anxious to perform. Not good enough for the local Bar ‘Karaoke’ scene, but they inflict themselves onto a passive audience which they can find in Rest Homes. They range from adequate, to just plain awful.


With Old Age Sometimes mother nature plays some nasty tricks. You may be fit and able and ready for an enjoyable retirement, along comes Alzheimer’s. Or the other alternative, you are as sharp as a tack and a paralysing stroke is your lot, so all you can do is accept your lot in life and play mind games.


Sadly I don’t have an answer to the problem, but I’m sure we can do a lot better that we currently do. I know one thing for sure, there is a ‘Lazy Boy’ chair waiting in the wings for the young of today who have parked their Old Folk into care.




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