South African over-60s are healthier and more vibrant than generations past.
These YEI seniors are contributing to society’s well-being, demonstrating that ageing is not “lost youth”, but a new stage of opportunity and enrichment.
Global ageing, along with climate change, are probably two of the greatest challenges of this century. Is purposeful ageing the key to the future? Purposeful ageing is empowering older people to be agents of change – they don’t just help others, they help themselves while maintaining a strong sense of meaning, direction and the desire to contribute.
The World Health Organisation estimates that by the mid century, 22% of the global population will be aged 60+. The mind boggles when one thinks of what kinds of pressures on being put on healthcare systems, national economies and local city councils. And older adults see this – they want to be agents of change – they continue to have a desire for productivity and purpose and are increasingly rejecting the traditional retirement norms. This growing population of older adults are not hiding in plain sight – they can provide solutions to one of society’s greatest challenges. They can define a new era of purposeful service and citizenship and contribute in their own way, and provide a legacy to future generations. Governments, national and local, need to find a way to tap this amazing resource! If a new public narrative were to be focused on purposeful ageing, the change could be immense, lives would be improved and attitudes would shift.
Purposeful ageing has everything to do with better health, longer life and emotional resilience. And in South Africa, these YEI seniors are demonstrating that purposeful ageing is a powerful and effective recipe.
Ginny du Toit, who lives in an ACVV retirement village in Mossel Bay believes that ageing is an attitude. “Sure you can’t run as fast or lift the kinds of things you could before, but instead of grumbling about it go with the flow. I am about to turn 76 and heading off on a “bucket list” adventure to the Northern Territory in Australia – Darwin, Kakadu, Uluru, Alice Springs. A travel agent suggested that I did a tour with a group of oldies in an aircon bus and comfy accommodation, but that is not my choice – I’m looking to have an adventure so roughing it a bit, some camping and quite a bit of walking. Signed up for Pilates classes to strengthen up and get fitter! My hair may be grey but my brain is not! Embrace technology instead of fearing it. Join a choir or a line dancing group. Try something new like U3A and embrace your seniority rather than referring to it as old age!”
Sidonia Henry is 65 and hails from Durban, KZN. “Age is just a number…. I firmly believe it’s how you view yourself…. I hear so many people even younger than myself who use this term “technology challenged”…I refuse it. I have decided not to be and feel quite chuffed when I’m able to teach younger people…lol… I love this time of my life… I’m able to do what, when and how I want to…. yes I face physical and financial challenges but who doesn’t …. I enjoy getting up in the morning knowing the day is mine to enjoy and do whatever I want to…. I have a sort of bucket list and slowly working on that ….love the outdoors and love to travel…. I just thank God every day for health and strength and that He gave my husband and I another day of grace…there are many who did not even reach their twilight years”.
“Ageing is definitely not for sissies…. with it comes a lot of challenges both physical and financial but if you have the right attitude – it can still be wonderful. Age is just a number in your head and you can choose to be miserable, grumpy and dissatisfied with your lot in life – or you can make each day something wonderful”. Lyn Leader from Randburg is a grandmother of three, does CrossFit, assists her husband in his business and embraces life on a daily basis.
Maithree Maharaj is a young 62, who believes in ageing gracefully. “It’s what u make of it…U only old until u feel old.. Yes it’s definitely a challenge…love ur self at every age and enjoy everything to the best…take it a day at a time”.
June Arderne, a 65-year old from Rondebosch says ”When there is always something new to learn and one is continually interested, then one does not feel as if you are ageing. Its just a process. I believe in keeping fit as well as keeping interested and curious. I have recently qualified as a yoga teacher and go on yoga retreats every year. I do the Parkrun each weekend and I am on my 95th parkrun and aiming for my 100th in the next couple of months. Hiking is a popular activity for people of my age and I am lucky enough to be going on The Crayfish Trail in a couple of weeks. There are Meetup groups for every age group and on most topics that one is interested in. One just needs to be proactive and have fun”.