Name: Helen W
Age at interview: 83
Helen is 83 years old, of Anglo-Australian background and lives with her partner in Melbourne. She has one adult daughter and two grandchildren and she often hosts international students in her home. She has had a range of jobs and is now retired.
More about Helen W
Helen describes the ageing process as a 'gradual thing'. The most noticeable aspect for her is that she achieves fewer things in the day than she used to. However, this does not worry her unduly and she is accepting of the slower pace she seems to need. She is grateful that she has her health and only a little arthritis.
Helen attributes her positive approach to ageing to the curiosity she has always had. She feels it is important to maintain interests and friendships, even though that becomes harder to do with age. A close friend recently passed away, which was difficult for Helen as her friends are extremely important to her. This is something Helen finds is happening often at this stage of her life.
Helen met her current husband when she was 62. She was still recovering from her divorce which left her with low self-esteem, particularly about her age. She considered cosmetic surgery but later rejected it, preferring to focus on being well-dressed and well-presented to maintain a positive body image. It is also important to Helen to 'splurge' in a small way every so often to treat herself, particularly as she is being so careful with her finances. Helen lost money through her divorce and a business that did not thrive and found herself in debt when she was in her sixties. She has resolved these concerns and now supplements her pension by occasional pet-sitting and hosting international students, something that she enjoys as she often becomes quite close to them. Helen and her partner will continue to host students for some time, as they have decided that retirement villages are not for them and they are going to stay in their home.
Helen finds technology frustrating but she is persevering with computers and will call an IT technician if need be. Creativity is very important to Helen. Many of her previous jobs have been in creative industries and she spends a great deal of her time doing glass and lead-lighting. She shares many creative interests with her partner, such as attending the local theatre, movies and literature. They have a collaborative and supportive relationship and Helen is fearful that he will die before her and she will have to live without him.
Helen hopes her good health will continue and that she and her partner will be able to continue living together. They will consider a reverse mortgage so they can have another overseas holiday and enjoy their later years in comfort.