Monday, 24 March 2014

Where are all the Older People? (Health and Safety Warning and some thoughts about death)

Following on from last time, I have undertaken ( not related to death, you understand, but kind of topical to this post - keep reading and don't judge me early on) three sort of consultations regarding the Older People's Strategy I am working on.

I say 'consultation', more a fact find actually, and apart from today's, which was a very intimate affair and had a couple of action points resulting from it, not sure entirely what I have discovered yet, other than older people, and I mean much older people, have really interesting stories.

I am encouraging lots of older people, and I mean really older people to write books and even found myself offering to return to a group to facilitate a Group Story Tell and Scrap Booking session!

To be honest anyone who has spent time with older people will know that they can spin ripping yarns, grounded in real life, which is what makes them ripping - the lady who was an engineer during WW2 and ended up driving some General around in an Army car that she had 'souped up' some how, the lady who was in the RAF and still wears her badges on her jacket, the lady who has outlived her children and has a special story for each one - tissues required.

On reflection, my fact findings are uncovering that fact that there are not enough people with enough time to listen to the stories, well, actually listen to the people.

Another fact is that Older People are getting much older which means there are more of them and the younger older people (3rd age) are REALLY different from the older older people ( 4th age) which is why my mum says that she is not old and can't engage with older people.

Mind you, the 94 year old I met the other day,even though she recognised that her body was fragile and frail would not say that she was see we have a problem.

HOW can I work on a strategy for Older People when no-one will admit to being an older person?

Going back to turing 50 and my reticence to embrace it AND the denial that many people seem to be in about their age, I think that it is because we, as a nation, and a church do not really value Old Age. (leaving that one hanging for now)

Relating to Death - linked to the undertaking joke - I am in the midst of a mission to shake up the taboo of talking about Death. ( perhaps lots of people already are and I am a bit behind the times, I don't know). I am wondering about death.

You see, it stands to reason that embracing the idea of aging, also means embracing the idea of some point. I know that death is no respecter of age, but if we want to live a long and happy life it will, in a 'shifting off this mortal coil kind of way', end at some point.
After having read 'Spiritual Formation' by Henri Nouwen and particularly  the chapter called 'From Denying to Befriending Death' (twice) I think that to get to know death before I really need to grapple with it might be a good idea - all things being equal, if you know what I mean.

Here's something to think about:
'Nature has given me a new face at 74, and it's up to me how I'm gonna wear it.

I have no romantic feelings about my age, but I just feel and think I am newer every day. When I die at 90, I'll be newest to face my creator. He deserves my new look' 
So with all that in mind, I am going to end with a prayer, by Henri - who was a Catholic.

Oh Lord, when shall I die? I do not know and I hope it will not be soon. Not that i feel so attached to this life.....(hmmm - me, not Henri)......but I feel so unprepared to face you. I feel that by letting me live a little longer, you reveal your patience, you give me yet another chance to convert myself, more time to purify my heart. Time is your gift to me - Amen