Reflections On Ageing

At 19 I started working voluntarily with a charity for older people in Bristol. For the past 22 years I’ve been a member of Stage for Age, the show business arm of Help the Aged, and work voluntarily to raise funds and awareness of older people’s issues. We live longer these days, but we need to be as healthy as possible to enjoy those extra years, so the work of Help the Aged/Research into Ageing plays a vital role.

Sadly, my mother died prematurely when I was young but I received support, comfort and advice from older family members and friends. Two strong women in particular were to influence me. The first was my lady boss and personnel and welfare officer, a devote Christian who was a mentor to me. The second was an older vibrant lady called Betty. who came into my life by chance when I had breast cancer 22 years ago. She had survived the disease and gave me encouragement and new hope that I too would survive and resume my life again. There was a stigma about cancer back then and people didn’t talk about it, but happily since then people have started to discuss cancer openly and attitudes are now very supportive…

People do still feel uncomfortable talking about many age-related illnesses. Of course we need to talk about all the conditions that affect us as we get older. For some older people in the UK the problems they face are having to battle with isolation and depression, while Overseas the problems can be to even access medical care. Poverty and health are vital issues too wherever we are in the World we all need to feel valued and cared for as we get older. Having recently celebrated my 70th birthday I’m thankful to be healthy and to have the confidence to be myself. My lifestyle consists of keeping active – both physically and mentally and I eat a varied diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. I spend as much time as possible in the company of my 4 grandchildren and am thankful to be conversant with computers which keep me in touch with them and the world at large. I find being on the same wavelength as younger people stops me becoming bigoted and broadens my horizons.