According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics nearly one-third of all Australians, that’s 4.4 million Australians, do voluntary work contributing 704.1 million hours of labour. We know that remaining active and engaged in life is essential to living a long, happy, and healthy life. However, who would have guessed that volunteering could provide these physical and mental benefits to how we age?
Whilst some of us are happy to move to a retirement village when we’re older it’s not for everyone. I’m probably in this latter group. However, a danger of remaining at home is loneliness and isolation and potentially poorer health. Keep reading to learn what we need to consider to remain healthy and happy if we want to remain at home.
A number of years ago I caught a train from Sydney to Canberra. The train left Sydney late morning so the majority of passengers were pensioners. I sat opposite a lovely couple and, as is my tendency, we chatted. Their story is one I’ve not forgotten, so I thought I’d share it with you here.
Imagine embracing each passing year. Truly embracing. Wrapping your arms around being that one year older and genuinely looking forward to the year ahead. Celebrating what you’ve learned and looking forward to the challenges and lessons ahead. This does not mean life is a bowl of roses, Pollyanna like. It’s accepting what is, with all the ups and downs, and moving forward in a way that accommodates the changes and makes space for more changes. Grey hair, wrinkles and all. What have I done?
The other day I was walking down the street and I noticed someone wearing a t-shirt with this slogan:
“It took me 60 years to be this good looking.”
OK. It is Hollywood. It is a little unreal. BUT, it’s fun, funny, and I like some of what it suggests (albeit in a Hollywood way). Here’s what I think we can learn from this movie:
The pursuit of youth and desire to remain young niggles. Just yesterday a friend and I were walking through an area filled with young people. We admired their youth and talked about the beauty of youth in our own children. In almost the same breath we both agreed that we love being exactly our age (we’re both baby boomers), despite our grey hair, wrinkles, age spots, saggy knees, and the increasing appearance of veins in our legs.
So, when I read or see stories about David Sinclair’s pursuit to develop an anti-ageing pill I become a little annoyed. When my 12-year-old daughter saw the story in the Good Weekend recently, she had this to say:
Yes. Well, no. Well, maybe. But not completely.
OK. So retiring is a big decision. But, what is it exactly?
According to The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary, to retire is “to leave office or employment, especially because of age”. I guess ultimately, that’s what we all aspire to – not working. Or is it?