Shades of white

White is white.

Until you try to choose white paint.

If you’ve ever tried to choose white paint you’ll know just how tricky it is to choose the shade of white you’d like to paint a room or a house.

Ageing is the same.  Here’s why.

Like white paint, there is more than one way to age. My way won’t be the same as yours.

Participating in the Masters Games, U3A or caring for grandchildren doesn’t suit everyone.

Some people can’t wait to finish work, to start taking cruises, undertake adventure travel, or hitch up a caravan and do a lap of Australia. Others simply don’t want to finish work. At least not completely. And there are others who don’t have any clarity about what they want to do.

My observations of people over 50 is that the diversity in how they are ageing is as great as the choices available for white paint.

Deciding what’s right for us is not straightforward. How far in advance are we thinking and planning? Until we’re 80 or 85, or until we die? What are our choices?

Many people say that they don’t want to age in the same way that their parents or grandparents aged.

We are innovating how we become older.

So what do we need to consider?


 1. Purpose & Meaning.

An essential aspect of being able to age healthily and positively is having a reason to get up each day, other than to get dressed, have breakfast, watch television, and go to doctors appointments.

2.   Housing.

The government is encouraging us all to age place.  I like the idea of ageing in place. As I’ve said before, I don’t see myself in seniors lifestyle living or a retirement village. I also know that if I want to stay at home I must consider its suitability for my possible changing physical and cognitive abilities.

Recently I attended the Leading Age Services Australia Conference. Big change is afoot. It’s challenging for the industry and good for us. Amongst many others, I met and spoke with architects who are committed to designing and creating spaces and places that appeal to us. I’m optimistic and excited about what possibilities are being considered and created.

Retirement villages, aged care facilities, and seniors living are all being reinvented and innovated. 

3.   Community.

Thinking about how to engage with community is essential – whether that be through voluntary or paid work and/or activities such as community gardens, book clubs and book launches, language classes, gallery events, or study.

Being connected in community is crucial to ageing healthily and happily.

4.   Health.

Be practical and realistic.

Physical exercise and diet make an enormous difference to how we age.

Physical exercise is crucial, and is one of the ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Also considering proximity to medical, hospital and home-care services makes ageing at home easier and more practical.

5.   Technology

Advancements in technology are exciting and increasingly accessible making it easier for us to ‘age in place’. Anecdotally, technology is also providing better patient outcomes, service quality and staff satisfaction in aged care facilities. The products I’ve seen are easy to use and/or install which makes it useable for everyone.

Ultimately, some of the technology that’s being developed provides opportunity for greater freedom and independence. 


Most importantly, as a 78 year old said to me recently, “don’t be afraid”.  A lively, active woman with some health challenges who still lives independently in her own apartment, she has discovered that becoming older is a wonderful and interesting journey.

What’s your journey going to be? What’s your shade of white? Curious to know.





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2 replies
  1. Sandra Pugh
    Sandra Pugh says:

    Hi Catherine, been neglectful of reading & answering your thought provoking literature.

    I don’t think of being older in the sense that I am less able, committed or motivated. Having been retired for the last 11 years, I am still awaiting ( not with anticipation) the day I wake to wondering what I will do today. I always have a reason to get out of bed with a spring in my step and a plan. It doesn’t always come to fruition because i get distracted, ( because I can ), something better presents itself, and I do as i choose rather than what I have to. ( this can lead to problems of procrastination a problem with which I am wrangling at the moment. Dealing with the internet is one of the tasks I severely neglect) I don’t think I am raging till I look in the mirror & see this old looking person. It comes as a bit of a shock.

    I have plans to go to supported living earlier rather than later. The experience I have had with my mother & mother in law in supported living were both so positive, that I have let my family know that I do NOT want them to care for me and when my safety living alone is jeopardised & a worry to them, I will be happy to move to where I have company and a level of care. This allows them to live their lives without the guilt of not thinking they are doing enough.

    My white is shining bright. But as soon as it yellows, I will be prepared.


    • Catherine Rickwood
      Catherine Rickwood says:

      Thanks Sandra. I’m very impressed with your planning and organisation for the last part of your life. It’s also great to hear that your own experiences with your mother and mother-in-law were so positive. I’m not sure how many people actually have that same experience and take that some approach so it’s great to know that there are some people like you that are leading the way. 🙂


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