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2013年6月 9日 (日)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「年相応」の生活楽しんで /東京

June 09, 2013(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Enjoy life in old age, but don't push too hard
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「年相応」の生活楽しんで /東京

Recently, 80-year-old Yuichiro Miura made the news for climbing to the top of Mt. Everest. At a news conference held right after his return to Japan, he revealed yet another goal, saying, "Next I will ski down an 8,000-meter mountain."

The energy of people like Miura in their 80s and 90s nowadays is surprising. When I go to the bookstore, I see best sellers by authors in their 80s and autobiographies by pianists and photographers in their 90s. Meanwhile, I know a woman who in her 70s decided to study a foreign language abroad, and was a little taken aback by a friend's reaction who had heard it was popular among grandmothers who had finished caring for their grandchildren. It seems no one is surprised these days if someone in their 70s starts something new.
 最近の80代、90代の「元気っぷり」はすごい。書店に行くと80代の作家の本がベストセラーになっていたり、90代のピアニスト、写真家の自叙伝が出ていたり。私の知人で70代になってから語学留学を決意して友人に相談したら、「それ『グランママ留学』って言うんでしょ? 孫の世話が一段落した祖母たちの間ではやっているんですって」と言われ、拍子抜けしてしまったという女性がいた。今や70代で新しいことを始めても、誰も驚かない時代になったのだ。

However, not everyone enters into old age with good health and strong curiosity. For fiscal 2010, the average "healthful life expectancy" -- the age through which one lives a normal, unhindered lifestyle -- in Japan was 70 for men and 74 for women. We can see that the 82-year-old who starts learning ballet, or the 91-year-old who goes mountain hiking every week, are very much exceptions to the norm.

Once, a woman in her 80s visited my consultation room. "I don't feel like doing anything. Do I have depression?" she asked. Her husband had died and she lived with her son's family. She also had a bad back and other chronic conditions. However, she was articulate, she didn't look like someone in their 80s, and she didn't seem to have any significant difficulties living her day-to-day life.

"I don't think it's depression. Don't worry too much, listen to music, talk on the phone to friends, and do what you want," I advised, but she didn't look convinced. In her mind, people in their 80s were supposed to be energetic, contributing to society and pursuing new goals.

Of course, it is wonderful if people can continue with their jobs or hobbies into their 80s and 90s. I want people to pursue their goals without holding back because of their age. But not everyone has to climb Mt. Everest or publish a best seller. It is precisely because those people are rare that they gain such public attention. In recent years the phrase "appropriate for one's age" has gained negative connotations, but there should be nothing wrong with living our elderly lives quietly in accordance with the illnesses and other effects of our age.

To seniors I would like to say, enjoy yourselves without pushing too hard.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2013年06月04日 地方版


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