Name: Janet and Gypsy
Age at interview: 72 and 81
Gender: Female and Male
Janet and Gypsy are married and they have two adult children and three grandchildren. Gypsy is 81 and Janet is 72 years old. They are both retired and live in Darwin, Northern Territory. Gypsy and Janet were born in the United States.
More about Janet and Gypsy
Janet and Gypsy have both noticed changes in themselves as they have aged. Janet feels she is able to slow down more than she used to and she has also noticed that she 'loses words' when writing or presenting to groups. Gypsy feels he is slower in doing things and he has medical concerns that he did not have when he was younger. He has had a triple bypass, which he believes worried his family more than it worried him. He recently discovered he has cancer in his eye which requires surgery. They are both aware of how important it is to look after their health as they grow older. Gypsy walks every morning and several afternoons a week and does neck and shoulder exercises that he has been doing since he had an elbow injury 20 years previously. Janet goes to a seniors' class at the gym at least once a week and walks with Gypsy in the mornings. They consume a good diet that is high in vegetables with no fried foods, as Janet is mindful of Gypsy's heart and she is trying to manage her weight.
Janet found retirement challenging as she was used to being busy. She worked for 18 years in university administration and then provided training for overseas aid projects. She felt lucky to be able to do this work and it paid well. However, she was glad when she retired as Gypsy's heart problems had begun, which was a traumatic time. Gypsy worked as a statistician in the public service and as an independent consultant. Retirement was a positive decision and he felt 'much more light-hearted' when he gave his retirement notice to his employers. The couple had concerns that retirement would be financially difficult, as Gypsy's superannuation from his time in the public service would not be adequate. However, other investments and social security from the United States means that they are able to manage financially. Gypsy also continued to work as a consultant after leaving the public service, which was also helpful financially. They intend to stay in the family home for as long as they are able to manage the stairs; their children also want them to keep the house that they grew up in. They now do housework and home maintenance at their own pace and call their son to help if they need it, but they are less concerned about keeping the house as clean and tidy as it used to be. As Janet says, 'people have to accept us as we are'.
Now that they have more time they read a great deal, keep up with the news on television and the Internet and spend more time with their grandchildren, looking after them when their parents go out and going to their sports games. Janet wishes she was able to see her Melbourne family and support them more often. Janet and Gypsy do things together, like going to the movies and eating out once a week and they like to celebrate special occasions with their family. Janet is also involved in a number of voluntary activities, including helping children to read at a primary school, being on a Board and acting as a humanitarian observer in Darwin detention centres. They travel more now than when they were younger, including a major trip most years and some domestic travel, including visits to family in Melbourne.
Janet and Gypsy both enjoy the freedom and time to do the things they want and note this as being the most positive aspect of growing older.