Young at Heart

Social Fitness  & Exploring New Horizons

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it”
W.H.Murray – The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

Over the past year whilst researching for this book, I have spoken to many of my contemporaries about the plans they have for the rest of their lives. Did they see their older age as a time of retirement and well-earned rest, or did they view it as a time of opportunity and challenge? As the Millennium drew nearer I sensed from their responses that the traditional image of ageing was being shaken off, and was being replaced by a far more encouraging picture. I discovered that most of my friends were feeling very positive about growing older, particularly my women friends. I enquired further as to what they wanted to achieve in their final years. Many women friends had a practical approach to the future, which they perceived with a positive mental attitude. They were realistic about their limitations and many were busy making preparations as to how best to enjoy the rest of their lives. Most were determined not to waste the predicted extra years of longevity, which they all viewed as a bonus. This optimistic approach appears to be keeping many older folk young at heart.

Speaking personally I find that being involved with younger people helps me to have a youthful outlook on life. I try to listen to my offspring, their children and their friends, in order to keep an open mind and to avoid getting too set in my ways. I sense that it pays to keep up to date with current trends, fashions and attitudes in order to understand the aspirations and frustrations of youth. It enables us to help youngsters sort out their problems, although we don’t necessarily have to agree with them!

Notice how older men and women who have regular contact with young people have a more relaxed and accommodating way about them when dealing with youngsters. Many of these people are teachers or organisers who are active in their social life, running youth clubs or sport or hobby orientated events. They appear to be more satisfied and fulfilled in their own lives than other older folk, many of whom have become bigoted and disillusioned with the antics of a some of today’s youth. Taking a broader well-informed overview of life creates a healthier mental attitude. Surely it’s better to live for the day, to take an interest in current affairs and to be generous in your opinions. When dealing with youngsters, it can go a long way to bridging that generation gap. Young people have a lot to learn from the experience and wisdom of older people, and many are prepared to respect their seniors, so long as they are not bigoted, opinionated and dismissive of youth!

Let’s now concentrate on the positivity of growing older, and here I believe that women are faster in learning how to control the march of time than most men are. For example women take more care of their physical appearance by looking after their general health, and their hair and skin. Women today are well informed and encouraged by books and specialist magazines. Many seek advice from health and beauty consultants. From advertisements and advertorials, older women have been made aware that with a little help from skin care and beauty products, and by making slight changes in their diet and exercise, they can effectively delay some of the visible signs of ageing. However, an increasing number of women are resorting to plastic surgery, which they see as the most positive method of superficially holding back the years. Many others less fortunate would love to be able to afford it, while others won’t admit to wanting it. Many women just cringe at the thought of cosmetic surgery and rely on nature being kind to them!

With this dramatic change in the attitude to ageing, the thought of “retiring” becomes more attractive. Retiring from work, and retiring from the traditional concept of ageing, leaves us free from the constraints that have bound and gagged previous generations, particularly women. With no written criteria or acceptance of being old, we now have the unique opportunity to break with traditions and re-write the rules! It’s exciting, and we must grasp the unique opportunity presented to us. If we have good health and adequate financial provision, we could find to our pleasant surprise, that the world is our oyster.

Over the past few years the words used to describe older people have changed too – for the better. Today words such as “retired”, or “mature” or “older person” are commonly used, whereas in my youth any person over 60 years of age was described as an “old age pensioner” or ” a senior citizen”. The changes are encouraging, but for me the most amusing label is one I heard at a celebration of older people in Gloucester Cathedral, when an elderly gentleman described himself as being “chronologically advantaged.” To date this is still my favourite – or do you have a better one?

Now dear reader, in the sincere hope that you have benefited from the advice given in previous chapters, this could be the moment to take control of the rest of your life. Remember “It’s never too late to be what you might have been”
George Eliot

The 50 plus group is fast becoming a group to be reckoned with both socially, economically and socially. As a group it’s numbers are increasing rapidly. It’s group members are healthier, more active and involved in society than previous generations, and have a disposable income estimated at £155 billion pounds a year. Far from sitting down taking life easy, women (and men) in this group are likely to be on the move. Many are off to seek adventures abroad, others are going back to university to improve their education, whilst others are contemplating setting up a new business venture.


Carity work
There could be something far more interesting and rewarding. Even though I exist on my pension I manage toand live within my means and my voluntary work gives me a sense of pride that I am putting something back into society.

You have a responsibility to yourself and your family to look after yourself. Who wants to be a burden to others?
Families can try to be supportive but early on I decided to take a conscientious effort to look after myself as best I can
Whats wrong with spoiling yourself a little? Why not have an aromotherapy, massage etc
Redundancy is devastating I felt numbness and incredulity and an initial sense of isloation – it affected my self esteem

I hadn’t expected it, I was so shocked. I felt disappointed and cheated.
Going from two wages to one is very hard for any family. Redundancy can put a strain on any family but if you have been together a long time it may be easier to understand each other and work the problems out. Not being a person who can sit still, the idea of sitting around the house for hours on end is horific. Having worked conscientiously for 30 years or more the thought of signing on for unemployment benefit horrified me
One of our biggest worries is whether or not we will have enough money to survive. The only person who can rebuild your ego is you. There is still a huge bias against older people when it comes to employment.

It seems grossly unfair that the Government spends billions of pounds helping young people find employment and only a fraction to assit older people who really do need help to find another job. These people are desperate to work, they have family and commitments and yet employers shun them. Younger bosses should be discouraged from shunning older job seekers. They need to realize they are turning away experience and knowledge, both valuable assets. Maybe it’s time for the Government to bring in legislation to outlaw age disrimination by employers.


From Saga
Local Education Authorities cater for every need from

 Wonderful new found freedom
 Own boss
 New opportunities
 New friends
 New interests
 Hobbies
 Time to travel
 Further Education
 Computer skills
 Charity work
 Maybe it’s time to search for your inner self
 Time to explore religions of the world and to take comfort from you new discoveries
 Religion and Faith
 Courage
 Activities addresses etc
Many of your new found activities could benefit your health as well as providing you with social contact which can help lift your spirits. Let’s look in more detail at how some of these activities will improve your strenght,stamina and suppleness and help you retain your physical independence. For example:

Strength        **
Stamina         **
Suppleness   *

For further information contact;
?The Ramblers Assn,
1-5 Wandsworth Road,
London SW8 2XX
Tel 0171 582 6878

Strength        ***
Stamina         ***
Suppleness   **

For further information contact;
?The Amateur Swimming Assn,
Harold Fern House,
Derby Square,
Tel 01509 230 431

Strength          ***
Stamina           ***
Suppleness     ***

For further information contact;
Fitness Industry Training
112 Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3NQ
020 7343 1850

Strength        ***
Stamina         ***
Suppleness   **

For further information contact
The Bicycle Assn
Starley House,
Eaton Road,
A5 SAE please,
Tel 01203 553 838

Stamina         ***
Strength        ***
Suppleness   ***

For further information contact
?The Badminton Assn of England,
National Badminton Centre.,
Bradwell Road,
Loughton Lodge,
Milton Keynes,
Bucks MK8 9LA.
Tel 01908 568 822

Stamina           ***
Strength          ***
Suppleness     ***

For further information contact
?The Lawn Tennis Assn
The Queens Club
Barons Court
West Kensington
London W14 9EG
0171 381 7000

Strength        ***
Stamina         ***
Suppleness   ***

For further information contact
?Veteran Squash Raquet Club of GB
26 Leatherhead Road
Surrey KT22 8TL
Tel 01442 232 222

Strength        **
Stamina         **
Suppleness   *

Strength        ***
Stamina         ***
Suppleness   **

Strength       ***
Stamina         ***
Suppleness   ***

A personal trainer can encourage you to look after your body and motivate you to be more active in the privacy of your own home. The National Register of Personal Trainers (NRPT) has over 1,000 teachers on their list and refer enquiries to fully qualified and insured Personal Fitness Trainers throughout the country. After an initial assessment a plan of action is drawn up and varies greatly from person to person. Dependending on physique, ability, and personal requirements. The advantage of having a personal trainer is the total flexibility, they will fit into your timetable and come to your home. You can have the programme tailored to your level of fitness and physical abilities, go at your own pace, and under supervision you can confidently build up your level of fitness.

For further information contact
The National Register of Personal Trainers
Thornton House
Thornton Road
London SW19 4NG
Tel 020 8944 6688

The Open University
POBox 200
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
01908 653 231

University of the Third Age (U3A)
26 Harrison Street
London WC1H 8JG
020 7692 5440

Learning Direct
Department of Education and Employment
Freephone 0800 100 900

Local Education Authority
Contact your Local Adult Education College

Workers Educational Association
National Office
Temple House
17 Victoria Park Square
London E2 9PB
020 8983 1515

National Institute for Adult Continuing Education
Learner of the Year
Older and Bolder
0116 204 4258

Feeling good is about having a positive attitude to life. We should never look back and dwell on our failures or have regrets We must always look forward with optimism. It’s never too late to ajust your lifestyle. You’re never too old to change your habits – or to help yourself to better health. Take good care of your body and your looks. Be more active and eat a well blanced diet. Be aware of your finances. Nuture your relationships, love and respect your family and friends. Continue to listen and learn, and always keep an open mind. Enjoy the rest of your life!

“We can’t beat Old Father Time… no – but some women drive a mighty close bargain with him”

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