The Golden Years?
IT IS 6:30 on an icy winter morning in Soweto, in South Africa. Evelyn must get out of bed. * In her house without central heating, this is sheer torture.
She painfully eases her arthritic knees over the edge of the bed. Then she sits and waits. Slowly the ache in her legs subsides. Evelyn now braces herself and stands up. She groans in pain. Hands on hips, just as a “grasshopper drags itself along,” Evelyn hobbles slowly to the bathroom.—Ecclesiastes 12:5. *
‘What an achievement!’ Evelyn says to herself. Not only has she lived to see another day but she has also mobilized her aching body.
However, she has another concern. “It is that my mind will become ‘derailed,’” Evelyn states. She loses her keys occasionally, but her mind is still sharp. “I just pray that I don’t lose my mind,” says Evelyn, “like some old ones do.”
In her younger days, Evelyn never gave old age a thought. Suddenly, the years seem to have slipped by, and now her body never lets her forget that she is 74 years old.
Some who are better off than Evelyn and relatively free of serious illness and stress can comfortably view their later life as golden years. Like the patriarch Abraham, they may reach “a good old age, old and satisfied.” (Genesis 25:8) Others experience “dismal days and years” and can only say: “I don’t enjoy life.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, Today’s English Version) In one survey so many people viewed retirement pessimistically that Newsweek magazine suggested renaming the golden years the “Dark Ages.”
How do you view old age? What are some of the challenges that the elderly face? Is mental decline inevitable in old age? What can be done to promote peace of mind in the golden years?
^ par. 2 Some names in this series have been changed.
^ par. 3 This passage in the ancient Bible book of Ecclesiastes has long been recognized as an insightful poetic description of the hardships of aging.