Albert 84, Tas

"I think you constantly need to work to keep your mind active and you can’t afford to be complacent."

Albert has an infectiously-positive attitude and zero interest in growing old gracefully. Fond of sports and the arts, he is healthily competitive and believes you’re never too old to learn something new, which is why he has recently begun playing the harmonica.

How do you keep active?

I go to the local PCYC (Police & Community Youth Club) every Tuesday and Thursday, where they have fitness sessions for seniors. I do weights and bench presses, and walk about two kilometres. I also play tennis every Saturday morning for around three hours. I’ve been playing for 50 years – I haven’t really improved all that much in that time, but at least it keeps me fit!

I’m also a member of a gym, which I visit mainly for the spa and sauna facilities. I think that the right kind of relaxation is very important when trying to stay healthy, and I go to the sauna four or five times a week.

What do you do to keep your mind active and healthy?

I think you constantly need to work to keep your mind active and you can’t afford to be complacent. Occasionally, when I have nothing to do, I may be tempted to just fall asleep on my chair, but then I say to myself, “This is no good, so get off your arse!”

I do crosswords and read a lot. I also socialise regularly – interaction with other people helps your mind stay active and keeps you feeling young. As I live on my own (in a self-contained, independent living unit in a retirement village), I have to cook for myself. Although, I’m spoilt as I see my three daughters once a week each for dinner!

What advice do you have for people over 80?

Join a club, any club, for the social benefits. Something like Probus, or anything else that interests you. I always try and keep active, and have some good friends and plenty of acquaintances. I also go to the movies regularly, for free sessions, and meet plenty of people there.

My wife died six years ago and since coming to the retirement village, I have struck up a friendship with one of the ladies here – we share the same sense of humour and the same attitude to life, and also cook for each other often (although the last meal I cooked her was a disaster!). That’s what it’s all about – interaction with other people. It keeps me young and I try and achieve as much as possible. I’m definitely a little competitive in that respect.

What’s the best thing about being your age?

Memories – looking back on the life I lived. I’ve done a lot: theatre work, singing in musicals, dancing and much more, but I also live in the present and look to the future.

I have a lot to look forward to. I have five children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. One of my daughters once gave me a present which contained a book – Fifty things to do before you die. One of them was “learn an instrument”, which is why I have recently learned to play the harmonica.

How do you overcome difficult periods in your life?

I believe I’ve led a relatively charmed life. The only downsides have been the losses of family, but other than bereavement, I’ve generally landed on my feet most of the time. I think some of it goes back to when I was younger and a working-class teenager in England. It was a tough time and we had to be strong.

What makes you feel happy?

I’m lively all of the time, as my friends will tell you. I enjoy being around like-minded people and my family. I feel young, I act young and most people would say that I seem young. I’ve had a good life and I still have more life to live.

Related reading: Finding the work-life balance sweet spot

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