Grey matters

About Grey Matters: Birthday 100This section embraces a random mix of items that encourage active ageing – through healthy lifestyles, lifelong learning, life hacks that make living that much smoother and a few laughs to make the journey  more fun.

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A lovely film clip about the 60-year old skateboarder

The Evermore Manifesto…




















More at:

Try telling my parents to slow down

Sara McKee writes…  So my parents arrived for Easter Sunday lunch a little quieter than usual, which may be due to the fact the dinner party they hosted the night before finally finished at 01:00 am. Earlier in the week my Pa had also celebrated his impending 80th birthday by closing a deal on a new Mazda sports car, and he took great delight in telling me about the discount and extras he’d negotiated. Their life is action packed but there’s no telling them to slow down, and why should they?         More at …

Evidence about the real cost of an ageing population…

Overcoming society’s problem with loneliness

A blogger writes – In the middle of 2013 I blogged about loneliness…That post is very much a personal journey through something that I’ve felt throughout my adult life, reflected in my inability to connect deeply with anyone. Yet the more I’ve pondered on this, the more I’ve started to realise that loneliness and the lack of meaningful connections with other people is something that lots of other people are affected by – to the extent that it has now become a public policy issue. Read more at

If the better weather makes you want to get out and about (but you fear your get up and go has got up and gone…) these exercise DVDs might help

Loneliness and obesity in older people – health impact

Loneliness can be twice as unhealthy as obesity, according to researchers who found that feelings of isolation can have a devastating impact on older people.

The scientists tracked more than 2,000 people aged 50 and over and found that the loneliest were nearly twice as likely to die during the six-year study than the least lonely.

Compared with the average person in the study, those who reported being lonely had a 14% greater risk of dying. The figure means that loneliness has around twice the impact on an early death as obesity. Poverty increased the risk of an early death by 19%.

More at:

Health information for older people

Great source of basic information – The Shed Online in Australia – with a focus on older men because it’s created by Australian Men’s Shed Association, BeyondBlue – the national depression and anxiety initiative, and Movember Foundation

Find out more about the magic of Men’s Sheds with this clip and this website

The Year I Turn coverA good read… The Year I Turn by Angela Neustatter

“In this buoyant, inspirational A-Z, Angela Neustatter writes about the unexpectedly cheerful side of ageing. The ways we learn to deal with conflicts, problems, relationships, feelings about our appearance and behaviour through the years become lighter rather than heavier, even though the body may be moving in a different direction…”

Order online at

Embrace your years

“… the first model of ageing sees age as everything, for the second, age is nothing. But there is a third way, one that resists ageism but not age, part of an age-acceptance movement that embraces the process of growing older. Ageing isn’t something that happens to us in the second half of our life; it’s a lifelong process. We age from the moment we are born. In this sense, ageing is another word for living; to be anti-age is to be anti-life…”


Another good read – ‘How to Age’ by Anne Karpf:

The secret of active ageing?

A short profile of David Egee who says “My father told me, ‘When you’re retired, be out of the house by 10am’

Naomi – by Ralph McTell

Age has made her frail
I’m scared to take her in my arms
But there’s an understanding now
And a peace behind the eyes
And age is for complaining
But you won’t hear much from me
Growing old with Naomi

Now I recall the first time
I took her in my arms
At times I was unfaithful
She said: “no future in the past”
So we don’t talk about it
She keeps a gentle edge on me
I don’t mind growing old with Naomi

She wasn’t all I wanted
But she’s all I’ll ever need
Oh, a rich man always wants some more
And I was rich indeed
A rich man and a poor fool
Yet it turned out right for me
How lucky can you get?
Growing old with Naomi

The kids today, they think that they’ve
Discovered everything
But me and her, well we’d done it all
Without a wedding ring
Sometimes things remind us
And she’s smiling back at me
It ain’t hard growing old with Naomi

She wasn’t all I wanted
But she’s all I’ll ever need
Oh, a rich man and a poor fool
And I was rich indeed
I never thought her beautiful
But I do now, ’cause I see
I’m getting wiser
Growing old with Naomi

Oh, the place is kind of quiet now
The kids have all left home
We’d like to see more of them
But we’re grateful when they call
And in the quietness afterwards
She comes and sits by me
Make me feel like a man
Growing old with Naomi

Hear the song at

Top tips for exercise in later life – for a parent… and you?

Triumph of ExperienceLearn to move smarter not harder. Help your parent to know their limits and understand ways to conserve energy. They don’t need to do everything they once did.

Aim to think young. Your parent doesn’t have to move “like an old person”. A positive mental attitude can help to stay young longer.

Set realistic goals. Make sure your parent sets reachable goals each day that are part of a long term plan.

Try to avoid injury. A fall for an elderly parent can cause mental and physical harm. A fear of falling may develop, which can lead to your parent being housebound if you don’t encourage them to get out and about.

Be flexible. Exercises that improve flexibility, balance and symmetry should be at the top of your parent’s list in order to stay mobile in later life and avoid injury.

Time to rest. Tiredness plays a role in injury risk as your parent ages. Allowing them a chance to rest and get away from the routine of daily life can stave off such risks.

Enjoy life. It’s helpful to find activities they enjoy that encourage them keep fit. Swimming and gentle walks are a good place to start.

Mind games. Your parent needs to be mentally as well as physically challenged. If your parent enjoys crosswords, Sudoku or jigsaw puzzles then these are a winner.

Courage. When your parent gets older, things they once did fearlessly may now cause instant dread. Understand that it takes courage to keep going and being elderly doesn’t mean giving up the ghost.

More at

Charlie and Marie: A tale of Ageing:        

I’d forgotten just  how moving this short film from the Young Foundation really is. Do take five minutes out of your busy day to watch and share with others.

Wise Guides for later life

–          Advice for later life – support and entitlements for over-65s

–          Help at home – essential advice for over- 65s for living independently

–          Healthy, happy, connected – support and advice for older people living along

Free to download at or order (free) hard copies

Love applesCan an apple a day keep the doctor away?

According to a study in the Christmas 2013 edition of The British Medical Journal, prescribing an apple a day to all adults aged 50 and over would prevent or delay around 8,500 vascular deaths such as heart attacks and strokes every year in the UK – similar to giving statins to everyone over 50 years who is not already taking them.

Further comments from the British Heart Foundation on the importance of statins are at

A better life – valuing our later years

What can help older people with high support needs to improve their quality of life? This research rounds-up from Joseph Rowntree’s A Better Life programme of work presents a vision of what life can, and should, be like for all of us as we get older.

Can the UK’s ageing population usher in a new age of economic prosperity?

It’s predicted that over 20 million Brits will be over 65 within 30 years. Can we see this as an opportunity rather than a burden, with older people providing an ever-growing market and an invaluable workforce?

UnLtd Research on older entrepreneurs Camden Shed 1

The number of people aged 50 and over is growing as our society ages. Yet this age groups seems to be under-represented amongst social entrepreneurs. This Findings Paper explores social entrepreneurship amongst people aged 50+. We look at the motivations, distinctive features and contributions of older social entrepreneurs and the potential for social entrepreneurship to contribute to addressing challenges of an ageing society.

For further guidance on social entrepreneurship in later life from NESTA, the social innovation foundation, go to

Understanding loneliness – who is lonely and when?

On 3 December 2013, the Campaign to End Loneliness hosted a new type of workshop to bring together those supporting older people to hear about the latest research in loneliness by Professor Christina Victor, University of Brunel

3-minute taster at, 56-minute presentation at More about the Campaign to End Loneliness at

Also on  loneliness in older people – this new guide from  looks useful (you have to register to download it, but it’s free)

12 ways to keep warm this winter – with thanks to Guardian readers

  1. Wear thermal layers – ski wear is good underneath, micro-fleece outer garments, and fingerless gloves if you need to use a keyboard
  2. Have a good breakfast with a hot drink
  3. Make a supply of soup at the weekend for your whole week’s lunches
  4. Position your chair (and table/desk if working) in a sunny part of your house
  5. Shut your doors and put a draught excluder along the bottom of the door you’re occupying
  6. If you have a microwave, buy two wheat bags – large for body-warmer, medium for feet or other cold areas
  7. As an alternative to a hot water bottle, a Snuglin – a mini heater in a cushion – will cost you around £50 but the website says it’s only 1p per hour to run.
  8. Keep moving regularly as much as is practical – a short brisk walk if you can, vacuuming, going up and down the stairs a couple of times
  9. Take a longer period of exercise – a bike ride, a walk to local shops, walk a dog (needn’t be your own!)
  10. Go to exercise classes or swim (with a hot shower afterwards)
  11. A heater with thermostat under a table with a heaving blanket on top reaching down to the floor and on to your lap can be effective
  12. A single electric blanket lining a sofa keeps it toasty


 Loneliness is…

“having plenty of people to do something with, but nobody to do nothing with”

This perceptive definition, referenced by Esther Rantzen, reminded me about a piece I read a couple of years ago on the busy-ness of our lives. It suggested quality time with our children can be about ‘kicking your heels together and doing nothing very much’ ie not feeling pressured to pack each precious moment with activity.

Great news that Esther Ranzen is now putting her Childline experiences into launching The Silver Line Helpline 0800 328 8888  to connect older people in an effort to reduce loneliness – more at

But let’s not forget that loneliness affects people of all ages – wouldn’t a bit of inter-generational connecting in our communities be great? See recent research for starting points…

Let’s talk about loneliness: congratulations to Joseph Rowntree Foundation for their 3 year action research programme into loneliness in neighbourhoods in York and Bradford which has informed their new toolkit on loneliness – available here

 “Never regret growing old – it’s a privilege denied to many” (anon)

11 positive things nobody tells you about ageing

‘It’s no use getting old if you don’t get wise, and getting older isn’t all doom and gloom if you realize that life is a journey; a journey of life lessons and experiences containing successes and mistakes.

What nobody tells you is that it’s the accumulation of this knowledge and how you respond to it that makes your later years the ‘golden years’ because as you age, you earn your stripes. But if your stripes aren’t put to good use and acknowledged, then you’ve missed the point of getting older. Here are 11 positive things nobody tells you about ageing’

If I had my life to live over – Nadine Stair, 85 years old

I’d like to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I had been on this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.  Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.          (source unkown)


Inside Men’s Sheds: Something men are not very good at in later life is making friends (even with other men). This can lead to isolation and loneliness which, studies suggest, can have the same health impact as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is  a greater national health challenge than obesity, cancer even. Which is why the rise of the Men’s Sheds movement is great news.

Find out more at and read this Guardian piece, published to coincide with the successful launch of the UK Men’s Sheds Association. The are over 50 sheds in the UK, 150 in Ireland. and 1000 in Australia. Some sheds are literally life-savers…

Check out the wonderful Repair Café idea from the Netherlands The ‘shed in a shed’ photo (above right) is from The Repair Café in London at The Goodlife Centre  where Alison Winfield-Chislett runs a mean ship with passion and creativity. (

A long term study of happiness and life

At a time when many people around the world are living into their tenth decade, the longest longitudinal study of human development ever undertaken offers some welcome news for the new old age: our lives continue to evolve in our later years, and often become more fulfilling than before.

In 1966, when he was 32, George Vaillant took over Harvard’s famous Grant Study. The task: track hundreds of Harvard men, from youth to death, and determine what predicts wellbeing. Nearly half a century later, Vaillant lays out his final findings, and discovers that his own maturation is inseparable from the lives he examines. Read on …


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