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Enthusiasm for life...How old are you in retirement?

How old do you feel? Ah, now that's a very different question. I have known people who were old at twenty and other people in their eighties who are still very young at heart and it is that enthusiasm for life that can make all the difference. Whatever your age - you still have something to contribute, it's just that the contribution is in a different area than employment. There are many people who give their all to their work/career and then feel totally lost once they reach the dreaded age of retirement. Unfortunately, it is a sad truth that many of these people do not live very long after their retirement party. Yet, so many people that I speak to that have retired tell me they don't know how they ever had the time to go to work!
While you are active, you can do all sorts of leisure activities that you didn't have time for before. Friends, family, hobbies and holidays are all there waiting for you…or maybe not. Some people don't have any family and others are very private people who don't make friends very easily. Please be aware of your own blessings when you meet a neighbour who is not as fortunate and spare them a little time. You may be the only person to speak to them that week! And it will make you feel more useful too, to know you've brightened someone else's day. Then, when the time comes that you need help, you'll find there is someone ready to help you. When we're busy working, bringing up a family etc, we don't have the time to notice what is around us, but retirement should give us time to "stop and smell the roses".
I know one lady who, at eighty years of age, decided it was time to stop being a volunteer driver on the Isle of Wight! She had been driving the less fortunate - through illness or disablement - to hospital, chiropody, hairdresser appointments etc. since she retired from teaching at age 60. Now that she is less able to get around, a friend takes her shopping. What goes round comes round as they say.
Of course there are some people who refuse to be helped because they see that as a sign of weakness, so I would say to them "how about offering your help to others", then it will not be a one-way-street. It's so much easier to ask for help as a "return" than it is to ask first, but most people are only to pleased to be asked. And at our age, our experience of life is very full. We have lived through many different social situations in times of conflict and peace, plenty and famine, so there really is very little that we won't know something about. We have the grey hair to show it!
Talking of grey hair - we are bombarded from papers, magazines and TV Ads that we should be spending time and money in order to look as young as possible. What is wrong with being who we are? Why must we all start to dye our hair as soon as the first signs of grey appear? Grey hair is a sign of experience and wisdom and whilst some prefer to go "blond" the rest of us should be free to be proud to be grey.

Author: Heather Rudge 24/10/05
Part-time researcher with a specific interest in the older generation.
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