UK Older People's Day (Part 5)09 Jul 2014
For UK Older People’s Day 2014, as well as the theme of ‘Full of Life’, each month has been designated with a particular theme. For July, the theme is ‘Full of Adventure’.
The recent reports about Bernard Jordan who left his care home and went AWOL to attend the D-Day celebrations attracted so much media attention – why?
Why should we be surprised (or even slightly amused) by this story?
At 89 Bernard will have lived through and adapted to the biggest changes in history, including advances in technology and cultural revolutions.
Today’s 90 year olds have had a lifetime of adventures serving in the armed forces, the introduction of technology that released the shackles of domestic life, women’s equality, sexual freedom, music that continues to be played and influence new musical trends, innovations that have ‘shrunk’ the world so that we can travel the globe or connect to people all over the world through skype, messaging and telephone. This is the generation that has led these changes and embraced them into their lives.
A couple of years ago my husband and I were at Hyde Park for an open air concert. The high spots for the audience, besides Paloma Faith, were Tom Jones (then 72) and Status Quo (5 members – total age then of over 300!). The lasting memory though for me was the 80+ year old lady who spent the day sitting on her zimmer frame waiting for Tom Jones to come on. As soon as he appeared she was on her feet, dancing with the rest of us for his hour of performance. Why does this image stay with me? Not just her pleasure from the event, but because the family who brought her understood how much pleasure she would get from the experience – they understood, in short, her need and wish to keep having an adventure.
In a time when many younger people are obsessed with careers, possessions and making money, I believe that the older generation acts as a reminder to us all that life is short and we should grab as many adventures as we can and live life to the full!
Sonia Douek is Head of volunteering and community development at Jewish Care and has developed a strategy for the organisation that has seen the growth of volunteers in the organisation reach 3,000 people.