Powering into the 3rd age

There has never been a demographic like the baby boomers. As they have passed through all life’s major stages they have re-defined them and in doing so have transformed accepted social norms. With the first wave of boomers now hitting retirement they are altering that as well, starting with ditching the detestable term ‘old age’ for ‘the 3rd age’.

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The beginning of this 3rd age of life starts roughly at age 60, its whole concept made possible by our longer life expectancy. Retirement can now go on for decades, rather than, as it had previously, the short period of rest and recreation between the end of work and the end of life.

The 3rd age is rich in possibilities and potential, it is a time of wisdom earned from a considerable and varied life experience. The time has its challenges though: the possibility of losing a life partner, children leaving home and confronting new physical limitations as the body ages. Experts in this field are clear; the key components of successful, healthy ageing are physical fitness, emotional happiness and strong social networks.

It is often easier to say than do. How do you get the support you need to live well and age well? Perched on the eastern end of the West End is one of our most compassionate and caring organisations, Novacare. They describe themselves as ‘a Hunter-based, independent, registered charity providing quality services to support aged and frail people, younger people with disabilities and their carers, to live at home and enjoy life in their community’. This not-for-profit community based service commenced in 1991, with the majority of its funding coming from the Commonwealth Government.

Novacare’s focus is the physical and social well-being of their clients. On the medical side they provide home nursing, respite accommodation, dementia services and support for carers. Their at home services include garden assistance – not just lawn mowing, but planting, weeding and fertilizing and the home maintenance facility will provide someone to wash your windows and screens and remove rubbish. The aim of these services is for Novacare’s clients to be able to enjoy a well-maintained home.

Socially, they have created Milpara, formerly the Novacare Seniors Club, which operates five days per week and is open to anyone over 65 living in the Newcastle area. Their motto ‘meet new people, enjoy outings, make new friends, participate in activities’ is reflected in a packed activity calendar including: Tai Chi, a book club, cultural excursions, a walking group, day trips to near and far, lunch outings, concerts, talks from guest speakers, cinema trips, the playing of board games, a camera club and a music appreciation group.

Remaining physically active as we age is crucial, to that end Novacare Seniors Club holds Heartmoves Exercise classes, a gentle physical activity program suitable for anyone and designed to be safe for people with stable long term health conditions. It’s so flexible you can even exercise sitting in a chair! Many studies reaffirm that it is never too late to get fit, the human body responds positively to exercise, no matter its age. Some suggest about half of the physical decline associated with so-called ‘normal ageing’ may in fact be primarily due to a lack of physical activity.

I’d like to throw something else into the healthy, successful ageing mix – find yourself some good role models. It makes any fear you have about the inevitability of ageing all that much easier. Here are my favourites: Jane Fonda, recently in Australia to re-launch a fitness chain – at 76, Sean Connery still turning heads at 83 and closer to home 73 year-old Jack Thompson who even now sports the air of a larrikin bad boy.

Going straight to the top, our Governor-General Quentin Bryce, 71, is the epitome of elegance, grace and intelligence. Beautiful 79-year-old Sophia Loren has said it best, “There is a fountain of youth: it is in your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love”.

Novacare, 564 Hunter Street, Newcastle West. The Novacare Seniors Club, Milpara, is located at Merewether. Email: support@novacare.orga.au. Phone: 1300 363 6541300 363 654. Web: www.novacare.orga.au You can keep up to date with Jane Fonda’s inspirational life at her website: www.janefonda.com

Kimberly O’Sullivan

Have you chosen the West End as your home or as the perfect place to run your business? Do you have a West End tale which deserves a wider audience? What inspires and infuriates you about the West End? If you have a story to tell I would love to talk to you! Here’s how to find me: kimberly@netspace.net.au; 0413 250 1550413 250 155.

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