My insights

Insights – lessons learned in my first year

As I approach the one-year anniversary of the idea for Age Life Balance, I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on what I’ve learned so far. Indeed, this is a question that I’ve been asked by a number of readers.

I’ll first tell you what I’ve learned about myself and others, as individuals, then what I’ve learned in terms of communities as well as the wider context of ageing.

Overall, on a micro level, the future can be positive. On a macro level however, the future doesn’t seem quite so rosy…

All about me

One of the biggest things I’ve realised is that in the grand scheme of things, I’m still very young! Hurrah! Rapidly approaching 43, I can still do many of the things I’ve always done, I’m still capable of learning new things and I’m equally capable of pushing my physical boundaries.

I’m pretty self-aware and my overall lifestyle is good. In addition, I had routine health check a few months back and the doctor was very pleased with me.

In the interest of being the best me that I can be, I have, however, made a few improvements this year as a result of things I have learned.

–        I have considerably reduced the amount of meat I eat and have become quite picky about meat generally, in particularly how it came to be.

–        I have increased the daily supplements I take including multi-vitamins with iron, glucosamine and skin friendly collagen, vitamins etc.

–        I still drink 2 cups of tea a day, but increasingly opt for green or white tea instead of regular.

–        I try to consistently drink more water.

 

 Significant others

I have discovered so many inspirational (older) people that don’t seem to let age get in the way:

–        Many of them don’t see themselves as old

–        They regularly count their blessings for the lives they lead

–        Many continue life as they always have, albeit at a slightly moderated pace e.g. the 80-year-old runner in our village, who still runs a lap or two every morning

–        Many are enjoying life to the max. especially since they’ve escaped their work shackles (my mother in law’s friend living 6 months in SA and 6 months in UK)

–        They seem quite au fait with social media e.g. twitter, Facebook, comments on online newspaper articles etc. Fellow blogger Grandma Williams is a great example.

–        Amazing stories of runners, dancers, athletes, students in their 70s, 80s and 90s

We need to remember that older people aren’t a different species, they’re very much like the rest of us, just a little further ahead of us in life’s journey. If I’m ever feeling old (e.g. when my knees ache from time to time) I just need to look around at some of the amazing people out there, and feel very much inspired by them!

Things many of them share in common include a positive attitude, a sense of purpose, involvement in the community, a desire to keep active etc. Many of the topics I’m writing about in ALB, in fact.

 

Communities

Since I’ve been tuned in to the topic of ageing, I’m astounded by all of the things that I’ve spotted e.g. pamphlets advertising health walks, volunteers in the shopping centre promoting the University of 3rd life, the Mature Times, relevant articles in the local paper etc. And this is before looking online.

Doing the simplest google search on various age-related subjects, I find multiple groups, forums, facilities, information etc. many in the local area. They vary in their objectives, but between them they support, motivate, encourage, bring together etc.

I am both amazed and pleasantly surprised that there are so many opportunities for the ageing and older population.

With so many opportunities to get involved, either as a participant or a volunteer, there really seems to be something for everyone. The good news is that as the population ages, this trend is likely to continue and grow.

This is all very positive on the micro level and it gives me hope that people can help themselves, provided they are both informed and that way inclined – awareness and responsibility are key.

 

Wider context

On the macro level, I don’t feel so positive though. With the best will in the world, the positive impact that some individuals make, will only impact them, and maybe some others around them. This will hardly be a match for the colossal train crash that we seem to be heading for. And this comes from an eternal optimist!

Although some people seem to have successfully taken their ageing journeys into their own hands, either by design, circumstance or luck, in the grand scheme of things, they are probably a small minority. Over time, this is likely to lead to a multi-tiered population, with some members ageing incredibly well, with many others leading a much tougher existence, troubled by ill health, loneliness and poverty.

In the UK alone, there are looming issues around healthcare, social care and pension provisions. I’m sure that other first world countries are facing similar problems. Many of these issues will require much more significant intervention from governments and other large organisations.

 

Wrap-up

Through Age Life Balance, I’ll continue to address some of the things that we can all do to make a positive difference to our lives. I hope this will raise your awareness, and ultimately inspire you to take some action. I also plan to learn more about some of the wider, more complex issues, and see what I can do to help influence some of these. I’ll keep you posted!