We are all getting older, and thanks to modern medicine, and better hygiene, we are all living much longer. As I spent much of my time in England with my parents and their friends, I was very aware of how many older people there are. Retiring at 60 still leaves many people with at least another 20 years until their time is up. So how are they filling their days?
Upon retirement, my parents moved to Derbyshire, an area of England known for its countryside, and abundance of paths to walk on. Every other shop is an outdoor supply outlet, selling walking boots, and camping supplies. This is what people in Derbyshire do. My parents belong to various walking groups, where the average age is around 70, and they meet several times a week, and walk together. Its a fantastic way to get out of the house, and meet other like-minded individuals. One of these groups is called “walking for health” and is specifically targeting those that are recovering from health issues, and need to get back in to shape. This one takes it fairly easy, and offers friendship and support as well as a chance for some exercise.
Fresh air, and gentle walking does wonders for the health and many of these old people were much fitter than me, despite being 30 years my senior. I was very happy to see that they had a way of keeping active and social. Local sports facilities are also providing various classes for the over 50’s which is another way of keeping people moving. Everyone I met was full of vigor and passion. One 80 year old was even planning a trip to Antarctica!
Another program that I came across while I was in England was the “care and Share” scheme which has been set up to help the elderly that live alone, offering people a chance to live rent free, in exchange for running a few errands, and keeping the elderly person company. This seems like a great idea, allowing people to continue living at home, with dignity, while avoiding possible accidents in the home.
So I feel a little relieved that my parents have plenty to do to keep them active and occupied in their twilight years.
Bali does not have quite the same opportunities, although the average age of the hash group is getting older and older, and they are keeping active by running in the rice fields 3 times a week. (for more information about hashing, go visit the Bali Hash facebook page). For the local Balinese, the average life span is not as long as in the west, so there is not quite the same need to entertain the elderly. As all generations all live together, the older generations still play a vital role in the family unit, and as such do not remain idle, often stepping in as carers for their grandchildren.
It is increasingly important to feel that we have a purpose as we grow older. A reason to get up in the morning, and a feeling that we make a difference. I am reassured that my parents have reached this point, and are finding many ways to occupy their time. I hope as I grow older I will be able to do the same