LETTER OF THE WEEK: Helping to make life better for the older generation

No Caption ABCDE NNL-170420-191449005
No Caption ABCDE NNL-170420-191449005

More than one in 12 of the UK population will be aged 80 or over by 2039, but if you thought older age was all about slowing down, think again.

Royal Voluntary Service supports older people at home, in hospital and in the community, and the older people we work with tell us that the secrets of ageing well are having a busy social life, being physically active and helping other people.

The charity recently asked people aged 70+ to name their secrets to a happy and healthy older age.

Keeping the brain active, having a positive outlook on life, doing regular exercise and laughing were at the top of their list. Three in ten are volunteers which they say is a great way to learn new skills and give something back.

Loneliness can be a major problem in older age so it’s important to stay social and in touch.

Royal Voluntary Service provides a host of social activities and events for older people in the community, supported by funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Our Northamptonshire social clubs in Desborough Town, Nether Heyford, Roade Village, Walgrave Village and Weston Favell are popular and lively with a variety of different activities.

These social events provide opportunities to meet up with old friends and make new ones, share conversations and common interests, and enjoy something to eat and drink in a friendly, welcoming environment.

It’s never too late to exercise

Being physically active has been shown to significantly reduce frailty in older people, which helps reduce the chance of falls and being admitted to hospital.

Taking the time to exercise on a regular basis can improve not just physical health but mental health too, helping older people stay mobile and independent for longer.

We’ve always believed in the ethos that sharing time saves lives. Some 35,000 wonderful men and women – more than half of them over 65 – give their time to help provide our services which make a huge difference to older people’s lives.

They settle older people back into their homes after a hospital stay, run cafés, clubs and community workshops, and provide transport to enable access to local services.

They befriend lonely older people, share stories over a cup of tea and run household errands.

These two-way relationships benefit both parties and many wonderful friendships have formed.

Volunteering isn’t just rewarding and inspiring though, it’s good for you too.

According to Professor James Nazroo from Manchester University, author of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, older people who volunteer are happier, healthier, less likely to be depressed or lonely, and have a better
quality of life than those who don’t.

For information about local volunteering opportunities and local services and activities for older people, contact Royal Voluntary Service on 01536 218424, send an email to Northamptonshirehub@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk or visit www.royalvoluntary

Teresa Gibbs

Royal Voluntary Services operations manager of Northamptonshire