Good news – ‘grey power’ is ending those lurking suspicions, the feeling that it’s ‘too late,’ that you’re `past it’ or ‘too old’ to try out a new experience, travel off the beaten track, learn new skills, or take on challenges. So, it’s not only never too late, but an ideal time to fulfil that long held ambition, or develop a new on. Lorna Hogg offers a few challenges
Learn to read
Many older people have developed complex avoidance techniques to hide the fact that they can’t read or write very well. This is becoming increasingly difficult, as so much of our life is now lived online. If this is your problem, you’re not alone. A recent report found that 1 in 6 Irish adults had difficulties understanding basic written text, and 1 in 4 had difficulties with basic mathematical calculations. There’s no need for it – the National Adult Literacy Agency organises classes with friendly tutors, working at your pace, and Distance Learning is possible… Contact www.nala.ie
Go to university
With courses for Mature Students, and a variety of modules, diplomas and short and evening courses, there is plenty of choice. Start with the website of the university in which you’re interested, for admissions details, or to www.citizensadvice.ie. You may be eligible under Accreditation of Prior Learning, and could even be eligible for a grant. There could also be ideal courses for you at other third levels colleges.
Learn or re-start driving
Some people never learned, others have become frightened, but now need to drive a family member. Motorways scare off plenty of would be drivers, but several driving schools offer special courses. The Leinster Driving Campus, near Newbridge, is no stranger to older learners, and they also do skid control and advance driving courses. www.leinsterdrivingcampus.ie
Make a difference..
Older people are formidable protesters and local leaders these days, forming pressure groups or lobbying authorities to better their communities. From creating local film shows and clubs in isolated villages, to arranging town twinning or campaigning for more local pedestrian crossings, Grey Power has never been more necessary or and welcome. Contact Age Action, for details of local partnerships, networks and associations.
Get a life online
As more of our lives are lived online, those without computer skills are at risk of losing out on opportunities, convenience of payment and even saving money with good online deals. From banking, buying travel tickets, paying bills and shopping, to special interest groups and sky-ping far flung family and friends, computer literary is a vital part of life to-day. Get details of the excellent countrywide beginners’ courses at your library.
Run a marathon
With mini and city marathons regularly attracting 70, 80 and 90 year olds, you’ll never be short of inspiration – so what’s your excuse? Safe preparation and training are vital, and there are some excellent training schedules online. Look at www.run.ie for a clearly laid out schedule.
Go on a walking holiday
If you’ve long dreamed of walking an old pilgrim trail, one of the great national routes in Ireland or abroad, or even hill climbing, there is plenty of support available to get you started. Help yourself by gradually increasing your general fitness and ability to walk increasing distances and varying speeds and on inclines. `Follow the Camino’ offers regular Introductory Evenings and Preparation Walks, for those who want more information or to prepare for their tours. Both are held regularly, and the Preparation Walk, usually fewer than 10 kms in length, is often in the Dublin Mountains. Details from www.caminoways.com
Find your voice
If you’ve always yearned to sing, but are convinced that you don’t have the voice for it, Corus may convince you otherwise. Based mainly around Dublin city and county, where classes are held, and also in Sallins and Skerries, they believe that we all can learn how to sing in harmony. We just need the confidence to find our voices and learn how sing in unison, or maybe even solo. Give it a chance, and you might find yourself singing with a choir on stage anywhere from the RDS or Croke Park in Dublin to a local shopping centre or club.
Get a pet
Queen Elizabeth has apparently decided against any new dogs – like millions of us, she does not want to leave a beloved pet to the future care of other. For many people, that is a very hard decision, as they may rely on that pet for companionship and love. Yet there is no need to lose it completely. Short term care and fostering is vitally needed to give pups and kittens care or training. Fostering a pet often lasts from one to three months, until an animal is old enough for vital injections and a new home – leaving you the satisfying realisation that you might well have saved its life. Puppy walking provides vital care and training for a dog to do a vital job helping humans. If you can handle non housetrained animals, and have plenty of time, love and patience, you might be able to help, food, bedding, and any necessary veterinary cover etc. will be provided,
Live in another country
From a few weeks in a warmer country during winter, to home swaps, house rentals, house sitting for a few months – it is increasingly popular for travel loving older people with free time to explore and really experience different countries. Research is key here – exploration of residence and tax residency requirements, finances, the possible rental or swap of your own home, the possibilities of down-sizing, travel insurance and health insurance cover needs to be done. However, living abroad, even for part of the year, can lead to unexpected and fascinating new experiences, new friends and ideas and horizons of all types.
Live out a dream
If you’ve always had a secret holiday trip or ambition – to drive or bike on Route 66, or do a fundraising challenge, age need not be a barrier. Celtic Horizons specialise in `road’ trips, offers a choice of classic American bike and car trips. An accompanying car travels with each tour, so you’re not totally alone! They get regular enquiries from 50 pluses of both sexes, and don’t even raise an eyebrow at seventy year olds. It’s now a great bonding experience, and different generations sometimes travel together.
If you’re fed up with sponsoring your children – or grandchildren, on their fundraising challenges, and want to try one of your own, get in touch with Age Action, for details of their Walking Challenge, taking place from 15th May until 22nd May, in Sardinia and Corsica.