Life – a Stepladder?
This is a translated text written by Alice Liber (83) Switzerland, founder of the „New Panther Club“ in Zürich and a strong supporter of the Eden-Alternative®. This is her reflection on ageing:
„As I was trying to sort through my papers I found a picture of my grandmother with her stepladder. Three steps up, a small platform on top, three steps down. Birth on one side, death on the other side, the stepladder was a symbol for life how it was perceived until the beginning of the last century, one had two lives, childhood/youth, grown up. Because, after school, one worked until one died.
In Switzerland in 1948 old age pension was introduced and since then we have had three ages. The European Union now talks about the fourth and fifth age and we are back on the stepladder, seven steps.
But in Switzerland gerontologists still talk about three ages. 50+ and you are old and need care. Some researchers even talk about 45+ where you start to need advice and care. I have no understanding for this.
Many people I know are 60, 70, 80 and over, full of life, even their faces are smooth, they look like 40 or 50. I read that in the US this age is much kinder called „extended middle age“, a decidedly friendlier notion. In Switzerland, you remain 50+. Never before so many studies about aging have been conducted, the stepladder turns into a ladder, up up up until you are 50+, after that, you fall down, open ended falling.
And here is where the notion of care comes in. People ask you strange questions: What is your former occupation? How do you spend your spare time? Why do you still want to learn things? At your age it does not lead to anything, where do you experience unnecessary limitations and challenges in your life?
Such questions are confusing and demeaning for an old person. My former occupation? Why former? It is still part of me, my experience never goes away. I am never bored, so why do I have to fill my “spare“ time? And my curiosity to learn, to learn everyday, will never leave me, a year ago I just got acquainted with the internet.
Sometimes I wonder if other normal people who work with us and for us see us the same way?
Alice Liber (83) alice.liberATgmx.ch
(Translation from German Christa Monkhouse)