The word ‘old’ in relation to people often has negative connotations. An image can come to mind of someone who has no vitality or interest in anything new or creative. On the other hand, some people continue to take an interest in life and so live every day of their life instead of merely existing. I like Sophia Loren’s attitude to ageing. She said, ‘There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.’
While some people think age is all about looks, Sophia Loren concentrates on what is going on in the brain. Many older people have talents they can use to help themselves, their family and friends. A talent may be the ability to play an instrument, do craftwork, catch fish or fix things. It may be skill in cooking, gardening, sewing or creative writing developed over many years.
Some older people volunteer and share their talents with others. They may act as mentors to much younger people. Cooking skills could be used to provide lunches through Meals on Wheels or meals to homeless people. Those with musical skills may provide entertainment to the residents of Aged Care facilities.
Retirees may enjoy having time to be involved in a craft group such as a quilters guild or they may volunteer their time at a local art gallery. Some will help children with their reading by volunteering at a primary school or a homework club run by a charity group. Others may volunteer at a carers’ support association and take on tasks such as talking to carers on the phone.
Some older people provide a lot of support to various members of their family. My grandmother spent a lot of time with her grandchildren. She taught us about cooking and gardening. She made up stories to tell us as well as reading to us.
There are older people who continue careers they enjoy well past ‘retirement’ age. There are amazing actors, actresses and authors who use their talents to entertain us into their eighties and perhaps beyond.
Some older people are great company and it is inspiring to be in their presence. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with younger generations and are interested in the world around them.
The fountain of youth which Sophia Loren talks about is not some magic potion to make older people look young. It is an attitude, a willingness to keep learning and developing regardless of the number of birthdays celebrated. It is about sharing experience with others throughout life.