Just in

Watching the world from the top of a hill

Despite the global dominance and enormous commercial success of the Rust – and to the surprise of some, the breadth of its demographic appeal – it remains the case that a core viewpoint amongst its regular contributors tends to be that of those beyond the first flush of youth.

As the festive period draws to its close I have found myself reflecting upon some of the issues currently afflicting senior citizens within my circle of friends and family as either noted or informed about in making my round of visits and social gatherings over the last ten days, including myself.

I regard myself as a neither a “picture of health” nor as an example of someone who is doing well for his age, particularly vain or who takes excessive pride in their appearance.

I’m more fatalistic than that.

At the age of 71 I like to think I am embracing the “time of life” that I am currently passing through.

If my habit is to get up in the middle of the night and spend a minimum four hours on the computer before my breakfast at 8.00am – which it is – I don’t think anything of it.

If I begin to feel tired or weary in the late morning or early afternoon I tend to retire to my bedroom for a snooze lasting anything from 20 to 90 minutes.

I don’t run anymore because – after my hip replacement in 2016 – I was warned to be wary of jogging or running and, though on several occasions I have tried to do both in a semi-formal sort of manner (as in “going for a run”), I have either done myself a mischief and/or received a severe dressing down from my daughter for attempting to raise even a trot.

I know better than that now, especially since – as I rose to depart my last “signing off” appointment with my surgeon six and a half years ago – with what I thought I detected was a slight smile on his face, he told me that I’d be needing to return to have my other hip done before too long.

Nevertheless, I played a lot of sport in my youth and still enjoy the “endorphin rush” that the human body can experience following a period of sustained activity or exercise. I also like a challenge now and again.

Over the past two decades I have begun – and then ended after periods ranging from a week to six months – innumerable “fitness regimes” of my own devising after consulting “Fitness Advice” columns and watching various “How To” physical jerk videos as supplied to the YouTube website.

My current one began some fifteen months ago, when I weighed 13 stone 8 pounds.

I bought myself a Garmin fitness watch which can supply me with fitness data of all descriptions. Sadly, because of my general lack of technical aptitude, the only information that I “follow” is the number of steps that I take, having given myself the industry’s classic target of 10,000 steps per day.

Since then – after three or four false starts – I have been trying to keep this routine going.

For the record I can report that (as of 11.00am) I completed 10,000 steps today for the 177th day in succession, a personal record that (for good or ill) I am committed to extending.

In addition I try to do a HIIT (a “high intensity interval training”) session every two or three days.

This involves doing squats, press-ups, star-jumps, a 2-minute “plank” and (on my back) some legwork designed to improve/stress my stomach and abs. Each of these sessions is designed to be exhausting … and is. I also do some “weights” work every other day with a couple of barbells that my son bequeathed to me the last time he was in the country.

Are these activities doing me any good?

I don’t know for sure, but I feel better than I used to. I currently weight 12 stone 3.5 pounds and – four months ago – one morning I tipped the scales at just 11 stone 8 pounds!

Enough boasting.

Playing sport after the age of 50 is a matter to be “managed”.

I gave up cricket for good when aged 53 because – when fielding on the square leg boundary in a friendly Sunday match of no consequence whatsoever – on three occasions I noticed the batsmen at the crease hitting the ball hard towards me.

In classic style I then went down sideways upon bended knee, ready to “take” the ball in both my hands … only to find that, by the time I had done it, the ball had already shot by me on its way to the boundary.

On Boxing Day I was talking to Finn, a pal who will be 69 this year and who has suffered from a permanent loss of taste and smell some five years ago when, playing tennis on a hard court, he ran backwards to retrieve a lob, tripped and was concussed, requiring the attentions of an ambulance and a two-night stay in hospital.

Despite this, Finn had played cricket as recently as last summer.

For about the last decade he has taken to being a wicket-keeper as his position on the field of choice and as a precaution against being concussed again. In the game in question, in response to one delivery, the batsman had turned and whacked the ball (unintentionally) straight at Finn and hit him bang slap in the middle of the forehead, in the circumstances perhaps the last place he needed to take a blow. Finn is now suffering from a loss of hearing in his right ear and sees a specialist next week.

In the same conversation, Finn told me of Mickey, an American friend of his whom I know, and who is in remission from a bout of cancer.

Mickey is apparently intending – subject to health – to visit the UK this summer and play some golf, albeit he has reported that (at the age of 70) he has to play off the ladies’ tees as these days he cannot hit the ball further than about 150 yards!

That’s how it is when you’re beyond the age of 50 or so.

There’s a small gap and indeed an art to keeping the right balance between, on the one hand, “maintaining fitness and taking up new interests” in order to ward off encroaching decrepitude and thereby ensure the best possible “quality of life” and, on the other, “managing” the process of one’s decline by accepting one’s limitations as they gradually present themselves to you.

And it’s somewhere in that gap that every senior citizen is operating.

Avatar photo
About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts