Charles Eugster is a pioneer in health regimes for people over 65, and well beyond. He has won medals for rowing and sprinting in his eighties and nineties! However, his book offers a lot of help for oldies less fanatically fit then he is.Read More
Did you know that 65-79 is the happiest age range in the UK, and 45-59 is the least happy, and most anxious (2016 report from the Office of National Statistics).Read More
My favourite author is George Eliot, and one of my recent treats was re-reading The Mill on the Floss, one of her early novels. I wanted to see if it was relevant for today’s older adults.
The focus of the story is childhood and youth: the central figures are Maggie, passionate but wayward, and her severe older brother, Tom. This book evokes the pains and bliss of childhood vividly:
These bitter sorrows of childhood! – when sorrow is all new and strange, when hope has not yet got wings to fly beyond the days and weeks, and the space from summer to summer seems measureless.
Many of George Eliot’s insights suit any age. Maggie’s often sad story shows the value of roots: not only the people we grew up with, but also the places. We also see the need to stay true to ourselves, and the values we believe in, even when glitter and glamour are seductive.
Although the main characters are young, there are several older adults who we can learn from in this book. One of these is Dr Kenn, the local vicar, who stands by Maggie when so-called polite society has judged her unfairly, and shunned her. If you can cope with the Victorian phrasing, Eliot gives a lovely view of the role of the elders:
The middle-aged, who have lived through their strongest emotions, but are yet in the time when memory is still half passionate and not merely contemplative, should surely be a sort of natural priesthood whom life has disciplined and consecrated to be the refuge and rescue of early stumblers and victims of self-despair: most of us at some moment in our young lives, would have welcomed a priest of that natural order in any sort of canonicals or uncanonicals, but had to scramble upwards into all the difficulties of nineteen entirely without such aid, as Maggie did.
Present times are so demanding that it seems to me most of us feel the pains of childhood and need the wisdom of middle age, whatever age we are. George Elliot’s novels have a lot of wisdom still fresh for our times.
My third book explores how gardening analogies can help people’s wellbeing, and I’ve started to ponder what insights they offer for creative ageing. This is groundwork for a weekend I’m co-leading at Hazel Hill Wood, June 2-4, on the Fruits of Maturity.Read More
If Vita Sackville-West is known at all these days, it is as a landscape gardener, Bloomsbury bohemian, or as the role model for Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. In fact, she is a superb novelist too: perceptive, witty and elegant.Read More
This is the best book on ageing I have read: well-informed, realistic, as well as warm-hearted and inspiring. Marie is one of the leading French experts on ageing: she has been studying this field for years, and draws on some excellent role models and teachers.Read More
My Armenian great grandfather Aram Assadour Altounyan swore by yogurt eating and daily cold showers – and lived into his late 90’s, still working as a surgeon in Syria. A family story is that at 93 he operated on his wife – hands still skilful and steady.Read More
Turning 70 was fine. I couldn’t believe it in a way – I kept having to redo the maths to convince myself this huge number related to me. I really like being an ‘elder’! The tricky one for me was turning 50 – neither one thing or the other.Read More
It's the people and the truth and love you bring to dealing to them ALL that count, not your or their appearance, behaviours, plans, status, achievements &c.Read More
Growing older can be tough when society’s in denial about it, so what can we learn from analogies with organic gardening? I’ve been pondering this as part of my work on Natural Happiness.Read More
My aim is to write a self-help book for people that don’t like the genre; this book will be light and constructive, and also concise. There will be Resources lists for deeper coverage of most topics.Read More
The ‘hero’ of this book is Tubby Passmore, 58: balding, bulging, and thoroughly lost. Although he’s outwardly successful – well-off, modestly well-known as scriptwriter for a top sitcom, with a steady if dull marriage, Tubby is depressed and confused.Read More
From Elderwoman, I conclude that one of the big gender differences in elderhood is that women face it more collectively. Men often face the challenges of ageing alone, and need new skills to find the collective support and wisdom they also need.Read More
In my own life, I have lived through enough crises and anguish to have faith – a sense that what’s happening is the right thing, and eventually I may understand why.Read More
One of the interesting things about this film, like Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, is that its main target audience is clearly the over fifties.Read More
Stunning is a word much over-used, especially by estate agents, but stunned is the best way to sum up my feelings at the end of this film.Read More