Age at interview: 70
Chris is 70 years old and works full-time as the CEO of a non-government organisation that represents older people. He is Australian-born and lives in central Perth, Western Australia, with his wife. They have three adult children and ten grandchildren.
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More about Chris
Chris has found the experience of ageing to generally be a very positive one. What is most noticeable to him is his increased consciousness of his own mortality since he turned 70. This happens in all sorts of ways, such as when he recently bought a new car and wondered if it would be his last. However, he describes this as a pragmatic approach and not an expression of fear. He has also become more aware that people regard him as an 'older person' now. Chris and his wife are still able to do all they want to do, but they are aware that in years to come some things may not be possible, such as taking active holidays.
Chris and his wife have done well financially in retirement as they always avoided debt, had access to government and university sector superannuation schemes and benefitted from the significant growth in value of their family home. He describes this as due to luck rather than planning and it enabled them to buy their current home without going into debt.
Chris has been healthy throughout his life. He is particularly conscious of the benefit of exercise, both aerobic and weight-bearing, for physical and mental health as he grows older. He also feels better for it and it helps him control his weight. He has always exercised before work and he has continued that habit into older age by walking in the mornings with his wife. He feels extremely annoyed when he does become unwell, such as when he had prostate cancer and a more recent issue with his foot. His health has not stopped him from maintaining many interests, such as choral singing and dining out with friends. He enjoys the collegiality of singing in a big group and finds that having a laugh about getting older with peers over dinner is a great way to deal with ageing, as it is only people of the same age group who can really understand and empathise with his experience of getting older.
Chris believes it is particularly important for men to have interests outside of work that can be pursued into older age to keep them engaged physically and mentally; this is something he has always done. He envisages retirement as a 'phasing out' of work; he anticipates taking on projects that allow him to work on his preferred days, help out with the grandchildren and maintain other interests. He is also conscious everyone has a contribution to make to society and can see himself doing more voluntary work in the future. Chris describes himself as a 'joiner' and has been involved in various committees and boards for work and his children's activities, which he has always found satisfying and rewarding.
The aspects of ageing that Chris enjoys include being comfortable with himself, as he knows who he is, understands his strengths and weaknesses and does not have to prove anything to himself or anyone else. He is also more accepting of things he cannot do anything about, as well as being more accepting of himself and the world as it is.