I was considering changing my lifestyle to keep healthy in my 80s as advocated by hundreds of Ageing Advice sites on the net. I am already eating healthily, and I try to take regular exercise. To avoid stressful situations is more difficult but I thought I was doing rather well until I came across Angela Rippon two programmes entitled How To Keep Young * . I started to see red, to get angry, to lose my temper. Not a very healthy response but for pity’s sake I am not young, Neither is she. Who is she addressing? 18 years old, 30? Older? is 50 young or old? is 71 Rippon’s age young?
God knows why I took the online test What Is My Real Age? Do I need to have a test to know my real age? I know how old I am. I was born exactly 81 years, 4 months, 23 days and 4 hours ago. The test gave me a body age of 85. Does the body include the brain? Keep my cool ? the blooming cheek! I am all of 81 -and bits – years old no more no less.
“Give the programmes a try” says my husband foreseeing a vicious outburst. “Blame the programmes not the presenter.”
I viewed and suffered both programmes, the stress increasing by the minute. I will not go into details. I cannot waste time to quote the vacuous images, the outlandish research projects and the comments of privileged, self-satisfied Rippon: (” I’m in a job people would give their right arm for, and in 50 years I’ve never felt bored.” Express Newspaper). Suffice it to say that in the first two minutes of the introductions to the programmes I saw smug Rippon (in the mirror) looking ‘half her age’, heard her say how to slow down ageing, how research help us younger for longer, which exercise holds off ageing the most, what can make us all live seven years longer, how to ‘cure’ ageing, search to find the best way of keeping us all young, keep our minds younger than ever before, the fountain of youth. The programmes ended with young 71 years old Rippon dancing frantically and desperately?
Now – I tried to forget about the stress of my anger in order to live longer but frankly I would rather rage against this ageism that so pervades our culture. Good friends of mine excused the programmes on the grounds that it does give some good advice about ageing well. Really? how about employing old people if they want to work? how about fighting poverty, fighting abuse of old people in care homes, prevent malnutrition, isolation. How about funding community projects and spaces? How about fighting ageism in all spheres?
I may have shortened my life by a few days but I feel calmer.
* broadcast on BBC1 and still available on iplayer.
** coincidence. As I was thinking about this post Channel 4