The Bible tells us growing older is a good thing but negative stereotypes about old age abound. Mary, 89, who lives at Carey Gardens in Kirby Muxloe, shares some thoughts on why our later years can be a time of flourishing and fulfilment.
1) We’re constantly evolving spiritually
Once you get to a certain age, your spiritual growth doesn’t just stop. We’re all continuing to evolve from the gifts we have been given through contact with our heavenly Father. The growth doesn’t come from ourselves but from Him. There is no cut-off point.
2) God will provide in very difficult times
I was divorced when I was 60 and moved to a hamlet in Leicestershire. While living here I found out that Carey Gardens was being built and applied for a flat. I truly believe God led me here. To come into this community has been heaven. It’s a bit like being in a boarding school in the nicest possible way. Everyone is so kind and considerate, whether it’s sharing a washing line or sharing a cup of coffee. It’s such a blessing to be here.
"To come into this community has been heaven."
3) You can learn new things
In retirement, I’ve done lots of things including an art class, poetry classes and a course in local history. I’m part of an adult learning group where we discuss a different topic of general interest each time and I get so much out of it. I also do something called shared reading where a text is read to us and we are invited to discuss and respond to it. I love words and I love hearing other people’s ideas and reflections.
4) It’s fun to join in
At Carey Gardens I’ve taken part in a couple of our home-made pantomimes written and directed by a church member. In one I took the role of Prince Charming and when we did The Wizard of Oz I was the Tin Man. It was fun putting everything together, including finding and sometimes making all the different costumes. On another occasion, a lady who lives here, Pam, borrowed a set of handbells from the parish church and we learnt to ring and play a few tunes. She is positive with a capital ‘p’ and the whole experience was fun to be a part of and gave us the chance to share her enthusiasm.
5) God continues to use your gifts
There’s a few of us at Carey Gardens who enjoy painting as a hobby. One year three of us got together to produce packets of notelets which were sold at our annual garden party to help raise funds for different charities. Over the years we have helped with proceeds to, amongst others, Air Ambulance, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Jessie’s Fund, supporting children through music.
‘They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green’
6) Physical exercise is important, even if you need to adapt
Many people living at Carey Gardens have been active in sports and achieved awards in bowls, golf, fishing etc. My exercise has been rambling and walking groups. But now I find that I can’t enjoy walking and talking at the same time as I get out of puff. So being out in the fresh air needs to include a seat or park bench for the talking part. For me, a good walk follows a figure-of-eight pattern – I don’t like a ‘there-and-back’.
I love hearing other people’s stories and the act of listening gives me new things to think about and a wider understanding of life.
8) Sharing faith
I’m not someone who loves being up-the-front but I’m happy to share ideas incidentally in a friendly conversation. It’s tempting to look back at life and feel a failure, but trying to live faith is for me, the best way to share faith. So, I’m grateful to be open to inspiration from wherever it is to be found and value the many gifts the witness around me that strengthen my faith in God’s presence with us.
Find out more about life with us...
Our care homes and housing schemes have been having fun in the sun all summer long
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Lawn bowls can be enjoyed at any age, as Communications Manager Helen McKay-Ferguson found out from bowls veteran Steve, 75, who lives at our housing scheme Carey Gardens, Leicestershire