sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Coping with Our 70-Plus Year-Old Bodies – Is It Even Possible?

By Ann Richardson January 23, 2024 Mindset

When my son, now in his late 30s, was about five years old, he made a remark that has stayed with me ever since. He had gone through a stage, thankfully brief, when he would pee unexpectedly, leaving a small visible stain on his trousers.

I asked him, I suspect with some exasperation, couldn’t he tell when it was coming? “No, Mum,” he said, “it is kind of like an ambush.”

He hit the nail on the head. Our bodies do ambush us all the time – from childhood right on up. We don’t see it coming.

The Struggle with Our Bodies

It starts as early as any of us can remember – we ran too fast on a pavement, we climbed that tree and, all of a sudden, we found ourselves on the ground and in pain.

From small scrapes to broken limbs, we learned early on that our bodies could be a nuisance and did not behave as we had planned.

Not to mention the many childhood diseases. I got absolutely all of them – measles, German measles, even Scarlet Fever, which was very serious in those days. I have a number of chicken pox scars to remind me of that particular bout.

And, of course, numerous colds and flus that came and went, as I mixed with other children at school.

Our teens and beyond brought an even bigger ambush – the menstrual period. It arrived when we least wanted it and, for some of us, on no particular schedule. We waited for it to come and, at some point, worried when it did not. Or, we wanted children and worried when it did.

We have all spent some hours over the course of our lives thinking about what was or was not happening down there. With no control.

Older Bodies

Of course, as we grew older, we were subject to large numbers of potential illnesses. Many of us have been through one or another life-threatening disease and many of us have lost friends through this route.

I lost a good friend to one of the worse scourges of our time, HIV/AIDS and, with his help, wrote a book about people living with AIDS and HIV.

And things only get worse as we age. “Old age is not for sissies,” they say, and they are right. Our bodies ambush us in one way after another.

The older we become, the more prone we are to serious illnesses that stop us in our tracks. We cannot hear or see as well as we used to, we can no longer run as fast as we would like, if we can run at all. And even the problem my then five-year-old son experienced rears its annoying head.

Some of us, although presumably not those reading here, lose our minds, bit by bit, to one kind of dementia or another. This is an ambush like no other – not part of anyone’s life plan.


How do you feel about all these events taking place within your own body? Do you quietly accept that this is part of being human and we should struggle through with dignity? Do you feel it is part of God’s plan?

Or do you, like me, rail against them? I have been amazingly healthy all my adult life, as was my father. And, like him, I get enormously angry when my body lets me down. How dare it not do what I want it to? Who gave it permission to succumb to a cold or flu or worse?

Yes, I know this makes no sense. I should accept each challenge as it arises. It is part of life’s rich tapestry. You are doubtless made of stronger stuff.

My husband says I will be indignant on my death bed – and it may well be true. I will let you know.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What was the worst health problem you experienced in your life? Do you accept these challenges as part of the human condition or do you rail against them? Please share your attitude in the comments below.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

As someone who has followed a healthy diet and been fit and active most of my life, I can relate to this feeling. When I discovered I had moderate to severe arthritis in my lumbar spine and shoulder, I felt like I was being punished. I felt indignant because I had practiced good health habits. We’ve been fed the belief that we will live way into our 90’s if we only follow all the latest health recommendations. But our family history still plays a big part in health outcomes. This has been downplayed compared to 20-30;years ago. I have now learned to adjust, modify but keep on going and enjoying the activities and things I like to do. It took awhile to get this stage.


your work has paid off well, i think, in getting here; i’m inspired


Yup, genetics play a BIG role!


I am 71 and finding very hard to deal with all the little things that keep going wrong and my doctors says they are not life threatening, not cancer. At least not yet.

i had Covid in October 22, and after that had one after the other, flare ups of arthritis, diverticular disease, allergic rhinitis, chronic sinus, and lastly hemorrhoids that have not yet left me alone.

all these things stayed with me for at least 3 to 4 months at a time. The arthritis went to my left ankle and I could not walk for a few months.
this has been the worse time of sickness in my life and I am not a person who is patient with myself and my body. The hemorrhoids are the worse as I was in pain and had to take to my bed quite often. And then I found that there was no one to talk to as those who felt well did not want to hear of your pain.

when you get out to meetings and get together it is very hard. I suffer with depression anyway so this made it much worse.

it is not a good thing to feel so alone even when you have family as they don’t seem to understand what you are going through.

i asked God many times why me, was I that bad of a person, but I know that it just the way things are. And then when friends get sick with cancer and pass within a few months , I know my predicament was not so bad, but I still feel sad about it and wish I could stay young forever and never get sick.
But we all have to go sometime and some of us are better. At the sickness and dying thing than others.

I have got passed the worse I think but now think what will happen next?

Susan Menigat

So true….it sees like I went from the youngest in my group of friends to being the oldest almost over night. Just because of my age my son treats me as starting to get senile and forgetful. I can out think him any day. It’s getting up off of the floor after a dizzy spell is the issue. What’s that dizziness all about?

Ann Richardson

I am not a medical doctor, but a herbalist taught me to put witchhazel onto hemorrhoids and it really works a treat. And cheap.

Joy Davis

Agree. Have used witch hazel for this purpose and it works very well

Lois Klemens

I understand completely. My love, previously healthy, developed liver cancer and died in 6 weeks. He never smoked or drank. I’m in shock.

Ann Richardson

I am so sorry to hear that. It must have been devastating, especially as it was so fast. You have my sincere sympathy.

Retired nurse

I can no longer kneel down. I am 70 with osteoarthritis. I get so frustrated not getting on the floor with my grandchildren, kneeling to pick items from under furniture and pulling my legs up under me on the settee as I sit.
The joys of aging,!


Am I the only one who feels a sense of “peer pressure” to look a certain way or engage in this or that as a senior lady? So many of the articles designed to help us actually do just the opposite by featuring photos of 50-something women who look 40.I’m 72 and it’s only been in the last few years that I feel like I’m losing ground on my physical and mental standing. Where’s the help for that? Where are the pictures of how that’s supposed to look?


Great article–I feel the same way and sure your husband’s remark is accurate for both of us!

1 2 3 5

The Author

Ann Richardson’s most popular book, The Granny Who Stands on Her Head, offers a series of reflections on growing older. Subscribe to her free Substack newsletter, where she writes fortnightly on any subject that captures her imagination. Ann lives in London, England with her husband of sixty years. Please visit her website for information on all her books:

You Might Also Like