Baby, infant, newborn, toddler, terrible twos, child, preteen, tweenies, teenager, teens, in betweener, youth, young, girl, boy, lad, lass. All describe the first 20 years. But what words describe the ageing process, the last life filled living of 20 years before ill health and death descend. Lil’s words are old, pensioner, elderly, frail, aged. That’s it. Perhaps pensioner is the only word that doesn’t imply ill health. Bungalow Lil and I are silenced by the paucity of descriptions.
We spent 8 hours in accident and emergency when mum’s electrolysis infected her face. It turns out diabetics shouldn’t do electrolysis. But this experience does not make me her carer, nor defines her as old, frail and elderly. She is still young and sprightly and no more prone to bad decisions than when she was 50. Yet there is a change. But we have no word for it. A process towards Lil needing more help. WHERE IS THE WORD FOR IT? Or are old people not worth while having words to describe their world.
The blogs, twitter and news aren’t much help. They talk about the very old and very dependent. All those young volunteers, young voluntary leaders, young chief executives under 50. They use words that talk about the ageing process as an illness. Help the Aged, and Ageing Parent, NHS Cold Winter Advise all talk about the old, aged and frail. Nobody else exists for them
But what about those who aren’t aged and frail? Where are their voices and language. Where is the public face of these In betweeners. Pensioners appear but mostly in terms of the economic worth of their pensions and if “old” people can make the right retirement decisions. Old in this case is 65, Saga holidays start at 50, and my son reckons any one over 40 is old. The word is not good enough. It is too broad. Old is a state of mind, not a state of life.
Where there are no words the experience is devalued, not counted, silenced. The ageing experience is silenced by the young who can only see the aged, frail and elderly. They patronise the experience that most older people go through.
Mum, she is at the teenage stage of getting old, perhaps. Just losing the desire for total independence. My Uncle is choosing to live 6 months of the year nearer his daughter and family. He also no longer wants total independence. Is he an In betweener perhaps? Would this make a good new word. Despite a stroke, he would hate to be defined purely in terms of his health, aged, elderly, infirm.
What is the word for totally independent, except when the person needs help. From Independent, to slightly dependent, to growing dependence to totally dependent. The stages when the young turn into a carers. Where are the words to describe the issue of driving when ageing. Full wheels, three wheels but still ok, two wheels and lets reconsider, one wheel and off the road. Or power of attorney, which can be phased, from start up but not yet triggered, to triggered.
Dont let conversations and debates be controlled not by those who have never experienced ageing, they haven’t the words. Pensioners, In betweeners, 3 wheelers, Independently dependant. What other words can we use? I would love to hear your new words