At 64, shortly after we had settled in our small town here in Gippsland, I started training one day a week on a course for personal carers. It was at the hospital where I had already been working, doing personal care in the community. So although I was one of the oldest students I plunged in and even enjoyed the lectures, visits to hospitals, and study. Why when we pass 60 do they think we shut down on learning? In my experience we have become an amazing force, with far more potential for learning new things than they give credit. I got great marks and concentrated well, even getting my lectures written up on time, and attaining good marks. Most of us were brought up in era when we learned be more disciplined so we applied ourselves well. Younger ones in the group were easily distracted.
I worked doing personal care, in a 30-bed unit and then in dementia care, where I was employed as an activities worker. It was wonderfully diverse, we had cooking, outings, singing, I ran art groups, read stories did quizzes and tried to make life rich and varied for the people whose lives were now rather sad and meaningless. We had great staff in the unit who tried their best to provide interesting and stimulating activities. I never regret my late return to the workforce. In fact I was nearly 70 when I at last decided that if I didn’t get out soon they would change the door code and I would be a resident!
So what can you do, could you take on another career now? Never let age put you off; if you are fit and still able to take in new concepts have a try.
Now in my 70s I have more creative outlets. I love writing and have always wanted to reach out and share life with others. I suppose I like telling stories, even easier because they are true, they are my life. Starts at 60 has helped with this, by accepting my work a few years ago. It was encouraging when some articles got a big response, it gave me a real high to know I had shared with thousands of people. My first stories were of the struggles we had and how we arrived in this part of the world. Over time I wrote of our years in New Zealand and so many other parts of life.
The other passion I have is painting, I am self-taught, and really do not claim any real expertise, but last year I decided I would put myself out there and advertise. I used local “Buy swop sell” to do this. I find I can capture faces well on canvas, and am besotted with painting animals too. The small amount I get, for my work helps the budget, but mostly it is an affirmation that I can use my skills and they are appreciated by others. I have five works waiting to be finished now. So am busy enough!
It really is never too late, if there is some hobby or experience you want to try, never give in, have a go. Yesterday I went to a residence in Melbourne which houses the “Johnson Collection” the craft work throughout the house is part of their Christmas exhibition. It was beyond description the work by the needlewomen, paper crafters, lace makers and even sugar sculptures just blew my mind, and so many of the things were made by ‘older ladies’ one or two in their late 80s.
Just do it, have a try even if you fail there is no shame, as life is dark if we never try, we need to still reach for the stars.