Age at interview: 69
Len is a 69 year old father of three boys. He is separated from his wife and has a girlfriend. He is a fifth generation Australian and lives alone in Perth, Western Australia. Len has had many different jobs and careers but a series of health issues means he cannot work. He has recently had a relapse of cancer, a broken ankle, a knee reconstruction, and has been in and out of hospital for the past two years.
More about Len
For Len, getting older has meant missing out on quite a lot. He was not aware he was ageing until about three years ago when he could see himself going downhill. His health deteriorated rapidly with a relapse of cancer, then he had all of his top teeth removed, a knee reconstruction and a broken ankle. This resulted in limited mobility and he needs a walking frame. He describes it as an amazing feeling when you establish that your body is going to pieces. His experience has been 'semi hell' and very painful. Len feels he is not well enough and not mentally strong enough to cope with getting old. He believes this led to depression and drinking too much alcohol. Experiencing these health issues as he ages has left Len feeling lonely and 'past it'.
Len has experienced other losses in his personal life and explains the feeling of embarrassment when he lost his money, horses, yacht and his house. It also knocked him around mentally and emotionally when a long-term girlfriend left him to look after her grandchildren. While he knows he will not ride a horse or own a boat again, Len does have a current girlfriend whom he describes as one of his best friends. Len has had a lot of girlfriends over the past 30 years and these relationships usually last two or three years. He feels he does not have any problems meeting people as he is not afraid to ask someone out or take them out to lunch. For Len, sex is part of living.
Despite all of his health and personal issues, Len holds hope for the future as the doctors say his broken ankle is healing and he will be on the way to recovery in three months. He is looking forward to a holiday with his girlfriend in the country and believes it is important to have something to look forward to. Len is grateful that he can rely on his sons to help him with things that need doing, such as moving furniture or helping him with the shopping. However, relying on them makes him acknowledge he is getting older and death is getting closer. Similarly, he has found that on public transport people now offer him a seat and that makes him feel old.
Up until two years ago Len was working as a handy man and builder. He believes work is a vital part of your existence and describes his satisfaction in building some beautiful structures. Len used to be a hard worker and early riser before his health started to deteriorate. He explains that the worst things about getting older are that he can't work and he is lonely. His advice to younger people is to keep working.
Len knows there many groups he could join through the local council but feels he is not fit enough to participate. He enjoys poker nights with his friends but as they die his social circle is shrinking. This makes him think about his own mortality and how lucky he is to survive this long and to have a girlfriend. Len watches TV and DVDs to pass the time but he is bored because he is not seeing people or doing things. He feels he does not have any motivation and does not want to do anything until he recovers physically.