Love Later Life
There are more people in Northern Ireland aged 55+ than 18 and under. As we grow older we face new challenges, and possibly concerns like illness, poverty or ill health. But that doesn’t stop us being ourselves.
We still want to laugh, love and be needed. We want to stay independent and keep doing the things we love. We all want a fulfilling later life.
That’s why Age NI is here. To support those who need us, to stand up for all those who have reached later life, and protect the long-term interests of future generations. We believe that living longer should be celebrated.
Our vision is a world where everyone can love later life. Just like the wonderful local faces in our personal stories below.
'I never thought that on retirement, I would find myself involved with so many projects or areas of volunteering. Talk about new horizons - I don’t believe I’ve ever been busier!'
'For me in later life, I have the freedom to structure my days to do all the things I wanted to do in earlier years, but did not then have the time to do, such as volunteering for Age NI and other organisations in other areas with the aim of enabling Equality and Human Rights for us all, at any age, and from any section of society.
'As I grow older, my volunteering with Age NI has given me informed and greater insight into ageing issues. I’m still growing, but I hope this is in wisdom too. I hope others are the beneficiaries of my volunteering otherwise there would be little point in doing it.
'Freedom for me to explore the ever shifting opportunities volunteering affords, includes my leisure time as leader of a walking club when I’m climbing hills and mountains regularly in the company of my friends, and enjoying the beauty of the surrounding landscape at the same time.
'Volunteering means you encounter new people all the time and make many new friends, one of the reasons why I love later life!'
'My wife and I both originally came from the Ormeau Road area of Belfast. We had been together for over 45 years and when she died suddenly, there were so many people who attended her funeral that I hadn't seen for ages. It was wonderful to see them and to feel their kindness.'
'We all agreed to meet in the Ulster Museum month later so that we could catch up with each other. Afterwards, we walked around the Holyland area were we grew up together to see how much our district had changed over the intervening years. And from that nostalgic wander came the genesis of an idea to hold a reunion of people who grew up with us in the same Holyland district!'
Stories and memories
'Former residents were encouraged to come along and share their stories and memories of life in our Holyland reunion at an event last May. It was a great success and another event was planned in Botanic School.'
'Many unknowns face us later life. I have found that networking with former friends was a truly positive way of building my own support networks to cope with personal change. Finding a little bit of the past again has help me to love later life in the present.'
'As a retired person, I have to admit that for me to say that ‘age is just a number’ reflects a deep desire to deny that I have been put out to grass. Look! Pay attention! I am here! I have not really grown up, despite appearances! I can still do many of the things I used to do if only I was permitted! There are many like me.
'Certainly people like me are the ones who buy into holding back the years rather then reeling them in. We are the ones who most loudly espouse the idea that age (and everything else about people’s selves) is more about social construction and imagination rather than about our biology.
'All very well, of course. But we know that saying that ‘age is just a number’ is much easier when one has good health, when one has a set of warm, supportive relationships, and when one has the financial wherewithal to cope with modern life.
'With its expertise, resources and attitudes, Age NI seeks to work for all those who wish to shout that age is just a number, but find it difficult to do so. That’s why I’m delighted to be part of the Age NI network of volunteers who seek to help more people to love later life.'
I worked for two years in the European Commission in Brussels in the 1990s, and – a case of sink or swim, for at that time French was used in the Commission much more than it is now – my A Level French improved to the stage that as well as surviving at meetings and on the phone, I was reading French books and magazines for pleasure. Back to a stressful full-time job in Belfast, it all slipped away and detective novels (in English...) were about the height of my reading.
In (partial) retirement, it has been such a joy to get back to this beautiful language and read everything from the classics, to modern literary fiction and, yes, detective novels! My retired languages-teacher sister sends me Nouvel Observateur and I’ve got Le Figaro on the laptop too (thereby neatly covering both right and left in French politics). Quel plaisir!