The joys of ageing, and is it all about the free bus pass?


This month I am absolutely thrilled to be sharing the VH community platform with the wonderful Linda Randell, who writes about the joys of ageing. When I first read this I had tears in my eyes and together with Gill, I am overwhelmed with the magnificent support and passion that so many of you have given to us. We continue to grow the community spirit, so do let me know if you would like to participate. I hope you have a wonderful November and do stay in touch over on Facebook. Linda, take it away! Claire x

Well, 60 wasn’t too bad. There was a certain novelty about it, and you get your bus pass! 65 last year did upset me, possibly because it was exactly half way between 60 and another number! (Don’t mention it!) I felt a little glum on approaching 66 a few weeks ago, so it was time for a change of attitude!

I’m very grateful to still be here of course, but that wasn’t the point. I had to think exactly what the problem was, and it seemed that it was apprehension about what happens towards the end of life. I’ve seen first hand with close relatives and elderly friends and neighbours the loss of dignity that can come with ageing and how slow and painful the decline can be. Frightening and depressing.

So, here’s the plan!! Time to change the way of thinking about age and find good role models. Well, I might as well start with my lovely Dad, who as it happens, was born 100 years ago and passed away at the age of 91 from old age. He wasn’t on any tablets at all, and had achieved his ambition of still dancing at the age of 90. He loved his sequence dancing – very good therapy for body and mind. I can remember him grabbing hold of me once and showing me how to dance the latest foxtrot. We were in the local library at the time, which brings me to another joy of ageing – you don’t bother much about what people think!

He always looked smart, never old-fashioned and said it wasn’t much use buying cheap clothes, as they didn’t last. He was in his late 80’s at the time! I learned a lot from him. When my Mum died at 61, he didn’t stop living even though it was a terrible shock. If a door closed, my Dad looked forward and went forward.

It’s also interesting to look at the ladies born the same year as me –Felicity Kendal, Jane Asher, Helen Mirren and Joanna Lumley among others. Not to mention some wonderful women who are a couple of years younger – Lulu and Twiggy. And then there is of course the wonderful, glamorous Joan Collins.

Now check out the amazing surfers, Woody Brown and John H ‘Doc’ Ball on They were still surfing in their 90’s!! How astonishing is that! It wouldn’t be for me of course, due to the seawater on hair scenario, but it’s good to do something, even just walking. I have a wonderful book called ‘The Joy of Laziness’ written by two German doctors and the general advice is to move about a lot and avoid triathlons! Good advice, unless you’re Woody Brown. Things are definitely looking up!

Ellen J Langer, an American psychologist, looked at the possibility that changing thought patterns could slow ageing. She recruited a group of men in their late 70’s or 80’s and took them for a ‘week of reminiscence’ at a retreat. Half the group would simply be reminiscing about the 1950’s, and the other half were surrounded by ‘props’ from the 50’s and were asked to act as if it were actually 1959. They watched 50’s films, listened to 50’s music and the retreat was not fitted with any aids for the elderly.

You can read all about this online, but basically, at the end of the week (only a week!) the second group were moving more easily and faster, and when tested, their physiological measurements, taken before and after, showed improvement across the board, with reduced blood pressure and even eyesight and hearing! Feeling better about ageing yet?

Ellen J Langer has written a book called, ‘Counterclockwise: A Proven Way to think Yourself Younger’. Think I’ll have to buy that, or better still borrow it from the library, thus saving money which can be spent on Innovative Skincare or Phylia de M!

Enthusiasms – that’s my next handy hint. I get a lot of them. They mostly consist of embroidery techniques and new things to knit, but before you condemn them as ‘granny pursuits’, know that they have become very trendy – honestly! I have doing them since I was a child and find it very soothing, except when it goes wrong and you have to throw your work across the room and then go and stamp on it. Even this is fun.

Sometimes I rush on to the next thing before finishing things I’ve started, which results in a few UFOs (UnFinished Objects), but what the heck – Leonardo Da Vinci hardly ever finished anything either! You will, of course, have your own enthusiasms. Genealogy is the latest for me. Retirement is a wonderful time for classes and joining things if you’re so inclined and money permits.

So, we’re turning back time now and we need to look at nutrition, which is vitally important, and supplements, which you will naturally be ordering from VH as they have the best, and I’m not on commission – honestly. We’re getting there!!

Last, but far from least, is laughter. So healing! You Tube is a wonderful source of comedy snippets, and you can find things from your youth that you thought you would never see again and will cheer you and make you feel good. Recently I discovered a clip of Peter Sellers reciting the words of A Hard Day’s Night as Laurence Olivier in Richard III – brilliant. Pete and Dud in the Art Gallery sketch, Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition, etc, etc! Hours of fun! And if you’ve never read ‘Three Men in a Boat’, you might like to try. It makes me laugh out loud every time I read it, and written in 1889, it goes to prove that human nature never changes.

So there we are – find good role models; buy quality clothes; use quality skin and hair care, move around a lot; do what you love doing; eat well; take anti-ageing supplements; have fun; laugh as much as you can; love as much as you can. Surfing is optional!

Linda Randell

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