Val and Austin

Val & Austin_photo

Name: Val and Austin
Age at interview: 86 and 87
Gender: Female and male

Val is 86 and Austin is 87 years old and they are practicing Anglicans. Val is a retired microbiologist and Austin is a retired judge. They have two children and currently live together in their own home in Darwin, Northern Territory.

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More about Val and Austin

Val and Austin both feel they are in quite good health physically and mentally, even though Val has Type II diabetes and hypertension and Austin had a successful operation for an aneurism four years ago and has a pacemaker. Val is concerned about her reduced mobility and she has noticed that people treat her differently because of her walking stick. She is also mindful of degeneration in her hearing, eyesight and teeth as she ages; however, this does not stop them going out quite a lot. Austin finds ageing is 'just a process', given his good physical health and alert mind. He has noticed a gradual slowing of physical activities such as walking. Val does a crossword every night to keep her mind active but is confident neither of them will develop a neurological condition such as Alzheimer's disease, as it does not exist in their family.

Austin spends a great deal of his time reading literature, as he now has the time to do this since he retired. He has also been patron of a number of charities, most recently for the Khalin group representing the stolen generation. Val is also committed to a number of charities as patron and this has been important to her, as she found retirement a time of tremendous grief. Retirement was suggested to Val by her employer when she was 66 or 67 years old. She would have preferred to work a few years longer and retire at her own discretion.

Val is annoyed at her low level of computer literacy, whereas Austin finds that his limited knowledge serves his purposes. Val has written some books in her retirement, particularly about their family history, using her laptop but finds it difficult to keep up with new technology.

They are still happy and comfortable living in their own home, although they realize it is bigger than they need and that they will probably have to downsize at some point. A more noticeable change has been a growing reluctance to travel both interstate and overseas. They have done a lot of travel for work and pleasure and although there is some overseas travel they would still like to do, they now find long trips especially tiring.

Val and Austin have had a successful and happy marriage. They are acutely aware of what the death of one will mean to the other. They are adamant that their children will not be the ones to look after them if they become frail. Austin enjoys life just as much now as when he was 60 years old and finds one of the most positive aspects of ageing is being more amused than annoyed about various things and having a greater understanding of people. Val also appreciates having a greater understanding of people and of situations and history. She feels that growing older has provided a wide experience of everything that is going on.