Acting your age can still be fun ...

An eight-week course encourages older people to be confident and productive, says Rachel Borrill.

ARE you worried about ageing, physically and mentally? Sign up for the Ageing with Confidence programme, which is available in 11 counties.

Nancy O’Mordha, 68, a stress manager consultant from Ashbourne, Co Meath, signed up for the eight-week course in May and found it “extremely beneficial’’.

“The course made me feel more positive, nothing about the course shocked or depressed me,’’ she says. “In fact, it made me decide to take many more walks on the beach, in my bare feet, and to take up Salsa dancing, as I have always wanted to do that since I was a young girl.’’

The ‘ageing with confidence’ programme, which is free, was established in 2001 and is run by Age & Opportunity, the non-profit organisation for older people.

The course is held at VEC’s across the country and consists of eight, weekly, two-and-a-half-hour sessions, allowing people to explore their ageing, as well as providing information on the physical, psychological and social aspects of growing older.

“I learnt a lot,” says Nancy. “There was so much comfort within the group, we all felt able to discuss anything, and there was a great deal of acceptance and respect for every issue we discussed.

“A lot of people might not have heard of the course, or may be fearful about it, thinking that they would have to study or do homework and that they would not be able for it. But it isn’t like that, it is a wonderful, happy programme.’’

Fortunately, Nancy has never experienced ageism. She told the group, that everyone should see ageism in a different light.

“I think it should be ‘A is for adventure,’ ‘G is for guidance,’ ‘E is for explore,’ ‘I is for information,’ ‘S is for share’ and ‘M is for memories’,’’ she says.

“I do not feel my age, it is just a number and I certainly still want to have fun, more adventures and keep on exploring.’’

Eamon Timmins, of Age Action, says as people retire many struggle to find a role within society and that dents their confidence.

“There is huge ageism in Ireland, which considers people of a certain age to be worthless. None of it is done deliberately or vindictively.

“Instead, we should be saying ‘what is wrong with ageing’? People can age positively and realise that you can have a good life, post-retirement, and enjoy it.”

Paul Maher, the director of education at Age and Opportunity, says the course gives people confidence to speak out in a group, to say ‘no,’ to think for themselves and to make plans.

Indeed, Nancy was so impressed by the course that she would like to organise evenings for older people to attend in her area, to ensure they get out-and-about and make connections.

“I want to hold fun evenings for them, where people can actually sit down and chat over a cup of tea,’’ she says.

“I think laughter is a very important part of keeping mentally well.

“People have so many fun things that have happened to them in their lives, but we never get the chance to speak about it. So I would like to help them.’’

¦ www.olderinireland.ie / email info@ageandopportunity.ie /phone 01-8057798


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