Friday, February 8, 2013


I have an occasional spurt of grumpy old rage, as when I hear about people who haven't lived but have been to college and therefore know everything, telling those who have lived, how to. If I get carted off to a Home they'd better watch out because there's sure to be a jolly young activities person with a name plate dangling from her bosom who is going to get up my nose.

I hear that there is genuine medical research that proves grumpy people live longer. Haha! That accounts for the string of tough, stroppy, long-lived but, it has to be said, sometimes crabby crones who inhabit my ancestral line. They are lining up behind me, spitting tacks at the news that our Ministry of Health has released some bracing advice aimed at "seniors".

The Ministry wants elderly people to be more active if they want to live longer, healthier lives. It is estimated that, by 2061, older people will make up a quarter of New Zealand's population. That, remember, includes all those younger people currently harassing their elders to get a move on, and not be a burden on the already-stretched public health system. May I suggest that if we become burdens, please remember that it's our turn. We have paid taxes and contributed to that public health system that took care of your chicken pox, mumps and measles.

Here's a list of the Ministry's recommended activities for those in their "golden" years: five half hour sessions of aerobic activity a week, such as aqua jogging, housework and kapa haka; three sessions of flexibility and balance activities and two sessions of muscle-strengthening activities a week, such as tai chi, petanque, yoga, bowls, walking to the shops and gardening. I can feel an enormous yawn building up – these are either boring, or chores which people do day in and day out, and do not make the years golden. No wonder the exercise rates drop dramatically after people get past 75 – life is getting too short by then to engage in boring stuff.

Advice from those who haven't yet reached the age of those they are advising tends to change with the weather. They won't understand, until they get there themselves, that old people, if they are stroppy, don't care. They will dance if they want, walk if they want, garden if they want, and not if they don't want.

There – is that grumpy enough? I intend to live to 150.