Age is just a number – by Rex Ellis

When most people reach the age of about 65, our western society seems to want to retire them from an active lifestyle. The word “retired” has the effect, often, of pulling people up in their tracks. If they have lived an active and physical lifestyle until then, it can be a descent into a monotonous and boring existence. Particularly if their health is not good, as often happens to be the case.  

When you meet old mates and acquaintances this applies, and conversation generally hinges on how bad their health is, how many pills they take each day and other negative subjects. If you are not healthy, you probably will not have a positive outlook. So the conversation mostly goes to the past, when their lives were more interesting and healthy. The present is boring, and the future… well, you don’t want to go there. 

There is, arguably, a lot of luck involved if you are still fit and healthy by 65. Even people who have spent their lives looking after their health and keeping fit, are destined for ill health and an unhappy future. That never seems fair, but after losing my wife Patti at 68, who had never had a day’s sickness in her life, I don’t take much notice of the word “fair”. We are not encouraged to be healthy and fit by most media advertising. Excess alcohol and food full of sugars are two of the biggest factors to undermine your health.  Also, the fact that you rarely need to ride a bike or walk to work any more means that for people to keep fit, they need to go to a gym or take on other exercise. 

Most farmers used to be fit and healthy due to the fact that lots of manual labour was involved.

However, these days so much is mechanised, they rarely pick up a shovel or crowbar. Instead of riding around their stock on a horse, they sit slumped in a ute, or ride around in an air-conditioned tractor in great comfort. I remember a GP I had on a trip once, telling me why so many farmers had a crook back, particularly back a few years ago, when there wasn’t quite as much mechanisation in the period, when going around stock on horseback gave way to going around in your vehicle.

They would then pick up a bag of super and do their backs in. Riding a horse required a straight back, compared to being slumped over in a vehicle. Makes sense. 

However, there are an increasing number of people who have reached the milestone of 65 whose lives take on a whole new positive aspect. Many take up or absorb themselves in a hobby or interest that they previously had little time for. If they are fit and their health is still in-tact, the sky’s the limit.  I have a mate, Peter Mounsey,  who is 93. He has just recently returned from riding his motor bike on Lake Gairdner, cracking the old 100mph, and not for the first time.  He still delivers boats from Brisbane around the coast to South Australia and still has “girlfriends.” And they don’t just sit around playing scrabble either! 

I will be 80 in January and am still working, because my work has pretty much been my hobby.  I have the good fortune to be healthy and keep fit by using a crowbar and shovel pretty often. I also swim in the Murray most mornings throughout Summer.  

After a very good marriage lasting 47 years, I lost Patti to the dreaded “big C” . At my age,s then of 76, most people are finished with “relationships”. After the grief subsided somewhat, I determined that I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life on my own  (apart from my Jack Russell). I began to have coffees with a number of good lady friends, and now have a wonderful partner for the long haul.  So reaching 65 doesn’t have to be the end of the section. You can make sure that age is only a number. We are designed to live for a hundred years—like a Peugeot car is designed to last a long, long time!  You just have to make sure you have regular “grease ups and oil changes” and drive on the correct side of the road. You don’t need to consider the alternative.

Leave a Reply