I’ve worked with older people since I was 20 years old. My first ‘real’ job after university was coordinating the WA Seniors Awards, recognising the contribution of older people to the Western Australian community.
I learned a lot and had great fun. It was amazing to sift through the hundreds of nominations and to read the stories of how older people across my State were making a difference.
This was just the first of many jobs where I was an advocate for the opportunities of ageing. As a result, I always thought that I was pro-age but recently fear has started to creep in.
The fear is associated with losing people. This fear has increased with the arrival of my daughter, Cara, nine months ago as I want her to spend as much time with her grandparents as possible.
Yet lately I’ve noticing my dad’s memory has deteriorated and my mum is wobbly on her feet. My parents have aged and this scares me. All those positive words I’ve used to describe later life suddenly seem trite when I’m confronted by the reality of their mortality.
You see, I can understand why some people talk about turning back the clock, or wanting to erase signs of ageing because to many of us ageing can signify loss. And we don’t want to lose the people we love the most.
But a very wise person recently told me it’s important to live in the moment, to not worry so much about the future as you miss the great things that are happening right now.
It’s something I have to work hard on remembering as otherwise I won’t enjoy the time I have with Cara and my parents. Actually, perhaps being mindful is something we all need to practice in order to confront our fears about ageing and ultimately challenge ageism.
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