Age at interview: 74
Denis is a 74 year old father of three and has seven grandchildren. He is divorced and moved from Sydney to Darwin 40 years ago. Denis is retired but still works part-time. He lives on his own and has severe mobility problems and chronic pain.
More about Denis
Denis describes the ageing process as like living in different bodies compared to when he was in his 30s. He has compressed vertebrae in his back, progressive atrial fibrillation of the heart and vascular problems in his legs. Over the last 10 years he has been getting chronic pain which is increasing all the time. It is difficult for him to walk 20 metres as he gets puffed out and his legs start to cramp. It took a long time for the cause of Denis' back pain to be diagnosed, getting successful treatment has been difficult, and while he does have private health cover, he continues to wait for a referral to a specialist in the Territory. Despite all these problems, Denis considers himself quite healthy - wrecked but healthy - and he wonders what it would have been like to age without chronic pain.
Denis now takes life at a slower pace, he can sit and watch television whereas when he was healthy he wanted to get up and do things. He is unsure whether this contentment with slowing down is due to ageing or experiencing pain but he finds now he is just happy to sit and appreciate not having to do too much. Denis believes he has become smarter as he has grown older because he has learned so much through his life. He explains that he has become more tolerant and feels that he can take whatever life gives.
Despite his chronic pain, Denis is extremely active. He is a member of a men's social club, is on the board of a community organisation, volunteers and works part-time in a teaching role. He stays involved because he says there is no point throwing away the knowledge he has. The flexibility of these roles and not being tied down nine to five is important to Denis.
Denis has been divorced for 25 years and has largely been on his own since. Because of his past experience he is afraid of getting tangled up with women. While he enjoys talking with people, he feels uncomfortable going on a date. Denis believes that, after being on your own for so long, it is harder to get along with people.
As Denis looks back on his life, his biggest achievement is his children. He also finds a lot of contentment knowing he is loved by his grandchildren. Denis is renting a house in Darwin and has thought about living with his daughters interstate, however, he wants to maintain his independence for as long as possible because he enjoys the freedom.