Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Nellie Bowley: old and happy

Back in 1965, rock star Pete Townshend wrote the famous rock line "I hope I die before I get old" into the classic Who song "My Generation". But Nellie Bowley obviously wasn’t listening. At the time, she was 65 years old – already old by most people’s standards. But guess what? She’s still going strong, and this week celebrated her 108th birthday, making her one of Australia’s oldest woman – and even older than Australia itself (her birth in September 1900 predated Australia' s federation by several months).

But is she happy? And who wants to live that long anyway? After all, if you’re pissing in your bed and unable to enjoy the finer things in life is there really much point?

Well, unlike you might think, studies actually show that old people actually tend to get happier over time. It’s all in the mind of course, and as Einstein once famously quipped, "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

And while she may no longer enjoy the visceral pleasures of romantic indulgences, she has the next best thing.

A dog*.

*and so does Shirley MacLaine, now age 74. Twelve of them.