Name: Helen B
Age at interview: 79
Helen is a 79 year old retired piano teacher. She lives in rural New South Wales with her husband Barrie (whom we also interviewed). She has three adult children and two grandchildren.
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More about Helen B
Helen is spending much of her time caring for a 93 year old acquaintance whose children do not live locally. Helen and her husband have cared for a number of family members in their home, but Helen has not yet thought about growing older herself; she says she 'hasn't got time to grow old'. Helen says she provides a 'taxi service' for her two teenage grandchildren. She does not mind this, as it means she still sees them and gets invited to their concerts and other things they are involved in. She also spends time doing embroidery and crochet. She used to sew her own clothes, knit and do pottery, but she had to stop or reduce these activities - as well as the piano - due to arthritis in her hands. Helen also found it more difficult to sew clothes to fit properly and look right as her shape changed due to age.
Helen and Barrie are thinking about selling the family home and downsizing, as the yard is too big for them now, so they also have a lot of 'de-cluttering' to keep them occupied. Most importantly to Helen, she is involved in a number of organisations, such as the Parents and Community group at their children's former high school, a direct-selling cosmetics company and a large antique fair that Helen has been running for 29 years. Helen derives a great deal of satisfaction from her voluntary work. She has also learned how to use a computer through her various voluntary positions. The mail-drops that she does for the cosmetics company also means that she walks regularly, which she feels is important to make the time for as she gets older.
Helen stays healthy by eating well, with no takeaway food, little eating out and lots of vegetables. She has high blood pressure which is well-controlled and takes few medicines. She broke her ankle 12 years ago and had significant problems getting around after she came out of a cast which meant she had a few falls. However, Helen has recently had a raft of health tests and her GP is very happy with the state of her health. Helen feels she has 'slowed down' now she is older, but this is a choice. She no longer wants to live life at the pace she did when she was young. She feels that is nature's way of looking after her in older age.