Age at interview: 90
Dolores is 90 years old, divorced and lives on her own in Melbourne. She is a retired library clerk. She is Catholic and was born in Croatia, of Bosnian Herzegovian background. She has two adult children and three grandchildren.
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More about Dolores
Dolores has not given any thought to ageing, as it is inevitable and happens to everybody. She describes herself as a realist and has not expected too much of life, so she has not been disappointed and has been able to succeed. She took this approach when she had a fall ten years ago and broke her hip. She now walks with a walking frame, but she is otherwise healthy.
Dolores attributes her good health to having no money for lollies or dried fruit when she was growing up and working hard all of her life. She follows a Mediterranean diet that is low in alcohol, rather than the meat-based, high-alcohol Australian diet. Her hard work has also meant she is comfortable financially, as she saved money by sewing the things she needed and working in the garden. She also went without many things while she was working, so that she could buy a house and plan for her children's future and her own retirement. She still lives quite frugally, such as buying cheaper cuts of meat even though she can afford more.
Dolores did not mind retiring, as she did not find work all that interesting and there were so many other things she wanted to do. She was looking forward to travelling and she went overseas every year for the first six years of her retirement. She first visited a friend in Indonesia and then made several trips to Canada to visit family and to the United States to visit friends. She never went back to Europe as life was hard when she was there. Dolores still spends a lot of her time sewing and has sewn many things for friends and neighbours in need. She has also spent her time learning languages and is fluent in English, Croatian and German. She reads dictionaries for fun and as her main source of information rather than the Internet. She is also interested in geography, world events and current affairs and listens to the news on the radio most of the day (including when she cannot sleep), as well as watching the five o'clock news. She also learned a lot about people when she was selling raffle tickets in a hospital, as she would talk to everyone (and had several marriage proposals).
Dolores divorced when she was in her early sixties. This was not a difficult transition for her, because she had her own ideas on how to make a future for herself; she also had the house and her job and thus was financially independent from her husband. Family is very important to Dolores. She is in regular contact with her children and grandchildren, particularly one daughter who lives close by and calls her every day. However, it is important to Dolores that she gives her children their space and, as such, she does not want to live with them. She intends to go on living on her own, something that her friends do not always understand.
The most positive things about growing older for Dolores are seeing her children prosper and keeping in touch with her many friends overseas. She feels that even when things do not go according to plan, life goes on and it is important that people concentrate on what they can do and what they do best.