Name: Des
Age at interview: 68
Gender: Male

Des is a 68 year old father of four. He has 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was born in the UK and has lived in Australia for 39 years. Des has worked in the transport industry most of his life and continues to work as a driver trainer. He lives with his wife in Perth, Western Australia.

More about Des

In 2000 Des contracted meningococcal septicemia, his blood pressure dropped to 78/38 and he almost died. This has made him fearful of getting sick again, especially when people are coughing in an enclosed space. The most difficult part of the recovery for him was being administered ceftriaxone which he says destroyed his immune system and made him susceptible to getting many other illnesses. In the past, Des admits he has been stubborn about going to the doctor and believes that reluctance to seek care is a ""male thing"". His experience with severe illness has changed his attitude to going to the doctor, although he is still somewhat skeptical that the medical profession has all the answers. He believes that doctors would benefit from more training on how to deal with people, and how to talk to them with empathy.

As a driving trainer, Des sees older people losing their licenses and the effect this has on them psychologically - it takes away their pride and tends to have a more pronounced effect on men. Des believes that as we get older we do not like to be reliant on other people. Therefore, an important consideration as we age is the need to be conscious of where we live and what services are available nearby. Des is still working and has never wanted to retire. He describes how he equates retirement with death. His father retired at 57 and died at 68 from a brain tumour. He believes this illness could have been brought on by lack of engaging with the world and not by medical factors alone. Rather than retire, Des would like to slow down and he now works fewer hours. However, he recognises the importance of having something to look forward to.

Des and his wife love to travel. They joined a vacation club many years ago, and while it seemed expensive at the time they have had many rewarding experiences from it. Des has been married for 49 years and says his marriage is extremely important to him. He is very close to his wife and they do everything together. He believes they have become closer as they have grown older, partly because they work less. She has always been his rock and after 50 years they are still in love. He says when you have been together this long, you almost know what the other person is thinking. He is worried about his wife's memory, but they tend to not talk about it. Des says he wouldn't be without his wife, and that losing her is something he does worry about.

Des describes his role as a grandfather and great-grandfather as priceless, he has great fun going on outings and babysitting. He describes the difference between being a father and being a grandfather is that as a father he was always too busy working. Des would love to be able to give his children his knowledge and thinks older people have a wealth of wisdom to pass on. However, he realises that children will make the same mistakes regardless of what their parents tell them. Des says that as he gets older he thinks more about helping people along. He believes he has learned to deal with people better and that he is more sympathetic.