Tag Archives: older

Time may change me…

Ageing brings change but doesn’t mean we do not want to do new things, nor that we might not develop new goals and dreams. AARP, where I am currently volunteering, has put together an initiative called ‘life reimagined’. The project aims to help turn people’s goals and dreams into real possibilities through online and offline programmes, experiences, resources and services that help people adapt to their new life phase and live their best lives. It got me thinking about the nature of ageing and change.

Having recently married and moved to the USA I am in the land of new. New husband, new country, new friends; even buying a pint of milk here can be a challenge! Yes I miss my family and friends and occasionally get fed up with navigating new situations – don’t even get me started on my first post office visit! But it’s fun too.

A colleague at AARP was telling me this week that her last child had just left home and she was now an ‘empty nester’. We commiserated together. For different reasons we are both experiencing the fears and excitement of change.    

As we go through life and grow older change is inevitable. It brings many new things; new roles as parents, as grandparents, as students and then workers (and back again) as volunteers, as husbands, partners and wives, as immigrants and emigrants.

Not all change is unwelcome, sometimes it comes because we are fulfilling old dreams or developing whole new goals. Even bereavement, difficult as it is, can be the start of new and positive times. Yes, some people are at home and alone and yes we need to reach out to them – but others are running marathons or skydiving; learning to play the piano or teaching children to read. My colleague above for example, was looking forward to joining a singing group as well as missing her children.

When my grandmother was widowed at 81 she packed her things and moved in with my parents without looking back. Many people assumed it would be to slowly end her days. On the contrary, many afternoons find her playing puzzles with her favourite great-grandson and now she is planning to redecorate her flat (at the top of the house). Now 94, she may have written a will and planned her funeral  but she is also picking out fabrics and watching a fourth generation grow up.

Life is all about change. Isn’t it time to see that as a good thing?

For more information on the Life Reimagined project go here: http://lifereimagined.aarp.org/

Reinventing the wheel?

Age UK London recently hosted a presentation from an organisation called care4care, and when I saw it I thought this is something I have to look at. Partly because of the need to tackle the problem of future care for older people, but I have to confess mainly because it is fronted by Professor Heinz Wolff – the archetypal professor from ‘The Great Egg Race’ in the late seventies. Along with Johnny Ball (how did he get voted off SCD?) and Johnny Morris, he inspired many of my generation to have an interest in science and the natural world. So what did he have to offer?

Continue reading

Wanted: Government advisors. Must be over 60!

Yes, the reshuffle is the big news today, but I was more intrigued by the fact that George Osborne has a group of young advisors, one of whom is in their twenties. In their twenties?

Continue reading

Let’s challenge the stereotype of the older slacker

I read with enormous concern the front page media headline last week talking about  ‘Older Slackers’. I wonder if the media knows the lengths that people over 50 have to go through to even get a CV looked at, let alone an interview, training or promotion prospects.

Many people will look at the headline and form an opinion without ever reading the content.
Continue reading

Health records and online access

A couple of us attended a meeting the other day in which one of the presentations promoted a pilot scheme to give people access to their GP records online. It sounded great… until we started to think through the potential for abuse. Our questions about security were acknowledged as valid, especially in light of recent failures in the massive NHS IT system developments. But there had clearly been little thought about issues closer to home.

Continue reading

On the buses

An activist at the Day of Action in Camden

On Tuesday 6 September, Age UK London, Greater London Forum for Older People and Transport for All held a Day of Action as part of  its On the buses campaign. At 10.30am, 200 older and disabled activists from across London gathered at four meeting points – at Vauxhall, Liverpool Street, Camden Town and Marylebone stations – to board buses to Westminster.

The aim of the bus ride was to raise awareness of the barriers older and disabled people face when travelling by bus in London, and to demand that older and disabled people are able to use buses with the same freedom and independence as everyone else.

Continue reading

Special Offer – Spend a £1, Save £10!!!!!

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Almost up there with personal injury lawyers and requests from Nigeria to help someone get their money out of a frozen bank account. But at the Preventive Health 2011 conference on 30th June, we were shown just what was possible in preventative health.

It was a packed day, with some excellent speakers. Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, was passionate but pragmatic about the importance of prevention in the future of the nation’s health, and Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, spoke words that were music to my ears – that non-medical aspects of a patient’s life were important factors in dealing with ill-health. Cardiologist Dr Ameet Bakhai was hugely entertaining, and here is a doctor who actually prescribes T’ai Chi and meditation for stroke and heart attack patients – fantastic to hear!

Continue reading

My grandmother stole my job!

Well not exactly… but a recent story in the press pointed out an interesting new trend. In 2010, over a third of newly created jobs were being taken by those over 65 and out of work.

These people might be taking up a job at 65+ to cover what their pension won’t stretch to, and to make up for savings which no longer pay decent interest. Or, given the role of grandparents these days, even to pay their grandchildren’s university fees!

The news often focuses on youth unemployment and worries about what young people – the lost generation – are going to do. Society is right to be concerned.  However, unemployment doesn’t just affect the young. When it comes to standing in line at the Jobcentre Plus, it seems that we – whatever age we are – are really in it together.

Continue reading

GP Commissioning – diagnosis? Missed opportunity…

There has been much in the press recently about the new role of GPs in commissioning NHS services, and many areas are already forming the shadow health boards that are going to deliver this change. Is it going to improve services or the nation’s health? Sadly I think this is doubtful.

Why? Well, first a quick story. There was once a farmer in Wales who was annoyed by local RAF aircraft. Because his barn was at the end of a long valley, RAF Tornado fighter bombers would use it as a target to practise low level bombing runs. The farmer got sick of the noise and one day went onto the barn roof and painted “!?#$ OFF BIGGLES!” in six foot high letters. The result? More planes! Every type of plane from Chipmink training planes to C130 Transports flew over because they thought it was funny and wanted to see it.

How does this link to GP commissioning? Well GPs are clinically trained to be symptom driven – you go with a condition and, like the farmer, they deal with what is presented to them. Their problem solving does not look at other factors like housing, finances or any of the thousand other things that affect our lives. And nor should they – GPs don’t go through all that training and debt to become social workers.  Continue reading