HelloCare recently published the story of a 93-year-old woman with dementia who released a pop single that raced to the top of the music charts.
The story was wildly popular with our readers, and we received hundreds of responses from readers all over the world. But one response stood out.
Audrey Guy, 82, wrote to HelloCare complimenting us on our coverage of such a positive story about an older person, and requesting that we publish a story about an older person enjoying life in every edition of HelloCare!
“I am collecting examples of older people making life better and easier for themselves,” Dr Guy wrote to HelloCare.
“Far too often we hear the ‘gloomy’ side of ageing but if we start to look around this is a very biassed way of looking at this increasing section of our population.
“The story of the elderly lady with dementia making a record of a beautiful Sinatra song is a good example. How much pleasure that will give to its listeners,” Dr Guy wrote.
When HelloCare caught up with Dr Guy recently she shared another positive story she had collected.
This incident appeared on the popular ABC show, Gardening Australia. In one episode, a 93-year-old was walking around her garden accompanied by her granddaughter and the television presenter. The older woman playfully turned the hose on the others! “Great fun!” Dr Guy exclaimed.
“My daughter said I hope I’m like her when I’m 93,” Dr Guy said.
“It’s wonderful she still produces all her own vegetables, with help from her family, in her own garden.”
“A lot of organisations are trying to promote ageing, but they don’t look at ageing in a positive way,” Dr Guy told HelloCare. “So I was trying to encourage them to do that.”
Dr Guy is an expert on successful ageing, having spent 10 years writing a thesis on the topic. But the former high school teacher and university tutor says her views have changed as she herself has grown older.
When she was writing the thesis, she believed successful ageing meant having a purpose in life, and still trying to achieve.
“That was six years ago,” Dr Guy told HelloCare, “but last year I started to physically slow down, and I began to think you might not have a purpose in your life, but you can still have things you want to achieve.”
After finishing the thesis, Dr Guy looked for a publisher, but wasn’t successful. But today her purpose is to rewrite her work as a publisher has expressed interest.
Apart from that, Dr Guy is involved in a range of activities that allow her to pursue her interests.
“I’m doing all sorts of bits and pieces,” she told HelloCare.
She takes part in email surveys directed at older people, and is a member of a Canberra group trying to improve the health of older people. The group meets about six times a year.
“I also enjoy going to University of the Third Age (U3A) in the ACT,” she said, where tai chi is one of the most popular classes. Dr Guy is trying to get the word out to people in Canberra that U3A is available and its advantages.
“I’m a member of (aged care provider) Warrigal. They invited me to be a company member quite a few years ago and… I still go down twice a year for their company meetings.”
Dr Guy is trying to get Warrigal’s Queanbeyan home to host U3A course so less mobile older people from the area can attend.
So what is the secret to continuing to enjoy life as you grow older? Dr Guy says people should continue to pursue their interests. Find a purpose or something you want to achieve, and then put your mind to it. It doesn’t have to be complex or even particularly ambitious, it might be as simple as completing a puzzle or having coffee with a friend. It might be completing a U3A course or attending a local meeting.
Dr Guy said older people can also benefit from using technology, and she uses email often to reach out and keep in touch, as she did to HelloCare.
“I write quite a few letters to The Canberra Times which people are usually very aware of. They’re usually controversial,” she said, laughing.