I am writing as we begin the next four weeks of Advent preparing for the gift of God’s son to the world, to announce that our our period of waiting for a new worker for Growing Old Grace-fully is over!
I am very pleased with funding support from the Diocese, the Day for Life fund of the Bishop’s Conference and Holy Child Sisters, we have engaged a freelance worker to support our work.
Welcome to Greg Mulholland who will be working with us part-time for the next year.
Greg is an experienced communications professional and will build on the excellent work of our previous freelance workers, in taking forward the work of Growing Old Grace-fully and delivering our vision and mission.
We have a clear brief to organise Zoom meetings to support parishes to be more Later Life friendly, as well as working with two parishes more intensely to support them in their work with older people. This is of course on top of our communications to our subscribers and supporters.
Greg says, “I’m delighted to be working with Growing Old Grace-fully, to deliver its important vision and mission in our Diocese and I look forward to working with the Board, volunteers and parishes to help older people across the Catholic Diocese of Leeds experience spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing in positive and inclusive parish communities”.
This December mailing includes an Advent reflection from a member of our board of trustees, Pippa Bonner and some suggestions for prayers which you may want to use yourself or share with other parishioners
With blessings for Advent,
Carol Burns and trustees of Growing Old Gracefully
This free online event involving speakers, groups and lunch-time interactive sessions, is now open for booking. Following one of COA’s ongoing issues of interest, ‘cherished, not forgotten’, the focus this year is on exclusion and some particular ways in which older people can be affected.
The morning sessions will be given over to an in-depth look at the Archbishops’ Report ‘Care and Support Reimagined’. Will Freemont-Brown from Lambeth Palace will lead us through the key ideas and how the Report is being used. What do we think and what can we contribute as Christians and Church members? There will be opportunity to comment and discuss.
The lunch-time interactive session will have a musical theme. Inês Delgado will lead a short workshop on music meditation, exploring activities that mindfully inspire the creative mind. This element of the conference worked very well last year when we experienced storytelling so grab your lunch and join in!
The afternoon sessions will look at two aspects of ‘older people on the margins’. Nicola Cadet of Sheffield Hallam University will share her research on behalf of HM Inspectorate for Probation that highlights the experience and life-outcomes for older people who find themselves involved with the justice system and on probation. COA has had a longstanding interest in older prisoners and are pleased to offer a session on this less well-known area of concern.
The second afternoon session will address a more established source of exclusion – social isolation and loneliness in later life. Emily Kenwood will share the work of ‘Time to Talk Befriending’. As in previous years, the conference will end with an overall reflection and a chance to discuss prospects and ideas for the future.
This newly published booktakes a radically different view of what our aging society means. Dr Anna Dixon turns the misleading and depressing narrative of burden and massive extra cost of people living longer on its head and provides a refreshingly optimistic view of how everyone could enjoy a better later life.
This book shines a spotlight on how as a society we’re failing to respond to aging–and what needs to change to ensure later lives become better for everyone. Examining key areas of society that need to change; including health, financial security, where and how people live, and social connections, Anna Dixon presents a strongly optimistic picture of how thinking differently could change the way we value later life in every sense.
About the Author Dr Anna Dixon is the Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, an independent charitable foundation that brings about change for people in later life today and for future generations. Anna joined Ageing Better from the Department of Health and Social Care where she was Director of Strategy and Chief Analyst.
‘One in three babies born today will live to 100. In less than 20 years, one in four people will be over 65. This has huge implications for our society – for our communities, our jobs, our homes, and our health.’
‘The ‘population pessimists’ tell us that this age shift is a disaster – that it will bankrupt our economy, and heap pressure on our NHS. Newspapers paint older people as ‘selfish boomers’, hoarding wealth and opportunity. Society tells us that getting older is something to be afraid of.’
‘In this book, Anna Dixon tackles these pessimistic views head-on. She shows that our longer lives are a huge opportunity. Drawing on many years’ experience in the health sector, as well as interviews with experts and policymakers, ‘The Age of Ageing Better?’ sets out the radical changes needed to ensure no-one misses out on a good later life.’
Anna and Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, discussed the book’s themes in a live event. You can watch the recording of the event HERE
A new report by Ipsos MORI and the Centre for Ageing Better shines a light on the impact lockdown has had on those aged 50-70, revealing dramatic changes to people’s lives and their plans for the future.
The interesting short video above is a compilation of clips from people describing their own experiences, both negative and positive.
To watch some more short videos on specific aspects of the impact of Covid-19 such as health, housing and work, see this playlist on their Youtube channel
Ageing Better held a recent webinar focussing on the Neighbourhood Networks in Leeds and Birmingham – see the one hour recording HERE
This was one in a series of webinars entitled ‘Road to Recovery’. The next one is on Weds 12th August and will explore ‘Bridging the Digital Divide’, again including speakers from Leeds.
The other day I was advised that I needed a routine chest x-ray (not COVID-19 related). The nearest available hospital was in the centre of Leeds. Driving myself into the business of the city from the outskirts was a bit of a novelty.
Until the March lockdown, I had enjoyed an active priestly life which involved ministry to an enclosed community of religious sisters, prison chaplaincy and some committee work but not parish involvement. I live, therefore, in an independent flat. I am 74 years old and preparing for retirement in August. I am the owner of 2 arterial stents, 3 by-pass arteries and more recently a cardiac pacemaker.
As a vulnerable older person I was instructed to self-isolate in my home. It has made obvious sense for me to keep the rules. Other than daily exercise and the odd minor infraction, I have stayed at home, isolated from the general commerce of daily life. Even my shopping has been done by two very kind friends.
Thus a trip into Leeds was a novelty which at first felt quite daunting. However I soon got into the swing of it. Everything went well and it was the most straightforward outpatient appointment, I think I have ever had. It felt good to become again part of daily life with nurses, doctors and patients all moving about their business as if they were nothing too unusual happening in the world.
As I drove back I tuned in to radio 5L, as I have so often done in times past. And then suddenly, as if the clock had been turned back, I experienced a strange and powerful feeling of beingyoung and energetic again. It quite startled me to realise that three months of isolation and constant news bulletins of sickness and death had imperceptibly given me a sense of having aged.
That revelatory experience has caused me to ponder and wonder what might be the connection between isolation and a sense of ageing.
One of the things I have struggled with during enforced separation from the world, is a sense of purpose. What is the meaning of life if one is all locked up and nowhere to go! What should I do with the day. Like everyone, in the beginning I busied myself with emptying an overflowing in-tray and answering overdue correspondence. But gradually when most of those loose ends were dealt with the question surfaced – “what is it all about Alfie?” this life locked in doors.
Then the words of Jesus to St. Peter after the resurrection began to resonate. “But when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and somebody else will put a belt around you and take you where you would rather not go. “
Though I am blessed with my faculties, both physical and mental, I seem somehow, during isolation, to have lost some independence. Now I must wait for the Government to tell me what is safe and what is not safe, what I can and what I mustn’t do. The belt feels to have been tied around me.
Seeing, each morning, the younger residents of the complex of flats where I live, setting off to gainful employment, seeing the key workers organising things in the supermarket car park opposite and watching the delivery men and the refuse collectors keeping the wheels of life turning, made me feel as though I do not quite belong to the world. It has created a sense of separation with a resulting sense of unimportance!
It would appear that these three personal experiences of self-isolation have unwittingly left me feeling older. It makes me wonder will I retire well, – a very pertinent question since my retirement may very well proceed my liberation from lockdown.
What I am very conscious of is that my admiration for the many housebound people older or younger, who manage to stay young at heart, has grown. It is to them I must turn for wisdom and guidance so that lockdown doesn’t rob me, prematurely of a youthful outlook.
As we are not able to run the conference at this time, we thought we would remind you of some useful websites and books on the topics of living and dying well. We hope you benefit greatly from exploring this content.
This excellent website based on an ancient Catholic tradition called Ars Moriendi offers practical and spiritual support to anyone faced with the prospect of death and dying, including helpful articles and videos.