But the main thing I wanted to talk about was the fantastic ITV documentary at the beginning of June, Secrets of Growing Old. (there are still 14 days left to watch it on ITV catch up, which I highly recommend you do: Secrets of Growing Old)
It documents how at least one baby born this year will likely reach 150. Scientists think that 1 in 5 of us will live to be a hundred. Also, that a staggering 80 per cent of the way we age is down to how we choose to live our lives: there's that element of choice again.
|NO LIMITS: Dilys Price, now 83, who started skydiving in in her 50s
From start to finish there was not one bad thing said about reaching your mature years. If anything, the interviewees, all of whom were in their 80s or 90s, said their lives were fuller and richer now than they had been growing up.
Feeling freer to be truthful was one advantage, they said, which is a trait shared with young children.
Being able to give things a go and not worry what other people thought was another. I know growing up I was painfully shy and fearful of embarrassing myself in front of anyone. There were things I wanted to that I just never considered possible, so kept them as hobbies.
I actually shed a tear watching 83-year-old Dills Price jumping out of a plane and loving it. Not that I feel particularly inclined to sky dive, but what it represented – breaking through her fears – really moved me. At age 50, when her joints began to ache, she thought that proved the beginning of the end. Instead of giving in she turned daredevil and is now the world’s oldest skydiver. That's the kind of bravery I wish I'd had in my 20s when I was too preoccupied with trying to get everything right - the career, the house, the boyfriend etc - and not upset anyone. But this documentary shows it's never too late to step into your own power and live a life you love.
Skydiver Dilys recalls: “In my middle age I thought life was very difficult and hard. I remember when I was 50 thinking ‘Is this life? Is this the beginning of the end?’. My knees were stiffer, I didn’t feel very happy. Then I thought ‘If my knees hurt, I must live a life through my head’. Oddly enough, as I thought that, my knees got better.”
Of her first skydiving experience, Dilys remembers: “I was terrified, I could see the ground and was thinking ‘What a mistake. This is death’. It’s unnatural, you shouldn’t be doing it. Then the next moment I thought ‘Wow, I’m flying’ and it was wonderful. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just Dilys doing whatever excites me. Now I’m the oldest woman in the world skydiving. It’s great.”
96-year-old Charles Eugster was overweight and unfit in middle age but has now transformed his body – by being active he’s actually keeping himself young on the inside and now has the body of a man 30 years younger.
“One of my saving graces is the fact that I am extremely vain and it was vanity that spurred me to do something because I wanted to have a good body,” said Charles.
So he began to build himself a body to turn heads, still working out three times a week. He says: “I am absolutely convinced, if we wanted, any one of us could have a beach body at 90.”
Charles has kept so strong that he’s broken two world athletics records. “My body has completely been rebuilt. Ageing is the most wonderful thing that could happen to anybody.”
Being a model in her 80s
And while many women try to battle the effects of ageing, 83-year-old fashion model Frances Dunscombe is turning them to her advantage. She’s fiercely proud of both her grey hair and her wrinkles. In fact, it’s these very characteristics that have made her such a popular model, and put her on the catwalk at London Fashion week.
Frances admits: “I don’t think I ever appreciated myself before. I was very insecure. It’s the insecurities of youth that prevent young people from realising their potential.” I completely agree.
The documentary also explores how some people don’t reach the top of their game until they’re well into their 70s - this is when our brains make new connections, opening up fresh, creative ways of thinking.
It’s the reason Gay McIntyre at 82 has only recently become so brilliant at jazz improvisation. It also helps explain why leading perfumer, 88 year-old John Bailey is able to marry up his logical and creative abilities in ways he never could before.
The upshot is these inspiring people all concur that they worry less about what people think of them, and are happier than ever before. Please do watch this incredible documentary while it's still available. Secrets of Growing Old