200 Steps of Ageing. Part 6

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Age 90:
- You will be weaker still. It may feel like your limbs are really heavy.
- Walking up and down stairs is difficult and actually dangerous.
- Walking along an icy path is as dangerous to you as walking through a mine field is to a younger person. One slip could kill you or put you in hospital for the rest of your life.
- It is unlikely that you would have the strength or fitness to clear snow off your path in the winter in a particularly productive way.
- You will be completely dependent on someone else to get you food and take you to the doctorís.
- You will need to take a lot of pills every day for your health.
- Your vision will be failing. Your eyes won't work equally well all over their surface. It is likely that you will need a magnifying glass or some other device to help you read.
- Your hearing will be a lot worse than it used to be.
- You will not be able to do many of the hobbies you used to do.
- Your average day will consist mainly of sitting and lying down.
- You may have a catheter.
- A nurse or carer will know you intimately.
- Your spouse will very likely be dead. If you are male it's most likely that you'll be dead and not your wife.
- You will have become used to being bored.
- You are waiting to die.
- If you are in a care home, and you escaped, the whole of society would think it correct that you be returned there. You are a prisoner now. The only thing you can do is resign to your fate.
- People will be tripping over themselves to congratulate you on your age. People will openly speak about you while you are there: "Isnít he wonderful?".
- Unless you are extremely lucky, any moments out of the house will be in a wheel chair while someone pushes you.
- You will have little privacy.

Age 100:
- Your average day will consist of sleeping and sitting in a chair or bed, while others help you with things. There is a slim chance that you will be able to do much walking.
- You will struggle to read without equipment because of your failing eyesight and likewise struggle to hear.
- You will get a telegram from the Queen, but they will check you are still alive beforehand just in case.
- In your head you will feel like the same person that you were when you were twenty five, but you will be trapped in a decaying body with a failing mind.
- Everyone will treat you as if you were an incapable child.
- You will almost certainly not know anyone your own age from your youth. In the really unlikely event that you did, it's even more unlikely that you would ever be able to meet up because of your and their health.
- Even people you used to know who were ten years younger than you are probably dead.
- Very few people will be left who share your experiences of the world.
- You will probably be secretly wishing you would die.

Age 110:
- The local newspaper will want to interview you because of your age.
- People will look for answers to long life from you.
- You probably won't be in a much worse state than when you were a hundred years old.
- If you have children who are still alive, they will probably be too old to look after you. They might even be too old to visit you.

Age 120:
- You will be the oldest person alive.
- You will be world famous, and there will be nothing you can do about it.
- Reporters from other countries will want to inverview you.
- You will be in the Guinness Book of Records if it still exists at that time.
- When you die it will make the trivial news section of the media in your country.
- You will have very little in common with anyone on the planet.

- If you have a moment to reflect before you die, you would probably want to say good bye to people and explain what they meant to you. If you die naturally you might feel too sick at that moment to consider it.
- If you die on your own, you will regret being on your own.
- If you have a while to think about it, you may notice how most human pursuits are based around providing for the future: eating, sleeping, drinking, washing, brushing your teeth etc. If you are going to die shortly then there is no point in eating or washing your hands.
- If you have any assets and haven't written a will, now is the time to think about how it might have been a good idea.
- Close friends and relatives will be upset at your death. The further the connection away from you, the less the upset.
- The older you are, the less upset people will be about your death. Partly because your death will be expected, and partly because there will be fewer people who know you. There will still be sadness though.
- If you are famous some people who never met you will cry while others may joke about your death.
- If you are extremely famous and die before you are sixty or so, then some people won't believe that you weren't murdered. They will think there is a conspiracy or some foul play that the police don't know or don't care about. A lot of people can't accept the early deaths of those they think they know as being natural. Some people will think you are still alive.
- If you are famous and you commit suicide, there will be hundreds of conspiracy theories and people will not be afraid to speak about them in public. Besotted fans and aspiring documentary makers might accuse your widow of murdering you or contributing to your death. If you are in politics then your enemies will be accused of murdering you.
- The wealth you collected throughout your life may cause friction between those left alive, from unspoken jealousy all the way up to lawsuits disputing your will.
- Unless you achieved something amazing in your life you will soon be forgotten by people who aren't close friends and family. Even if you become Prime Minister or President, unless you caused or prevented a lot of deaths, you will become just a name in a list of 'important' politicians. If you were a successful MP, town councillor, head of a government department etc you will be forgotten within a few years. You might be remembered on a plaque on an office wall up to the point that the building is demolished and redeveloped. Perhaps a small street will be named after you, but no one living there will know who you were. If you were a successful popstar or musician, then future musical tastes will dictate whether people remember you. Decades on, people wonít mourn your loss, they will just remember that you were the person who wrote a particular song. However much importance you attach to anything you've done or achieved, it isn't important anymore.
- All your possessions will instantly lose any sentimentality or significance that you applied to them, and at best will become seen as 'something owned by you'. For example, a gift of a pen from an old friend will stop representing a memory of a life long friendship, and will become "granddadís pen" at best, but more likely, an object in a box of secondhand stationery worth a pound together at a house clearance auction. An important letter will become a scrap of paper to be shredded or burned.
- Any photographs that used to have an incredibly deep meaning for you, will become "pictures of unknown people", and will only be significant to anyone else if the people in them are wearing historical clothes or are doing historical activities.
- The care you took in selecting objects to buy will amount to nothing.
- Most of the knowledge and experiences you acquired throughout your life will die with you. The years spent learning a new language, your visits to the gym and so on will mean nothing after this point.
- If you are very famous, your image and name will be used to advertise objects over which you have no control. People might dress up as you for fun.

So there you go. The moral is probably "try to make the most of what you have while you can" or "try to have fun no matter what you do" or something like that. No, there weren't two hundred steps, but it seemed like a good title.

"So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?"
Hunter S. Thompson.

Good luck!

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