Age at interview: 72
Kaye is 72 years old and lives with her partner in Perth, Western Australia. She is a mother of two, has 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Kaye was born in Australia and is a non-practicing Anglican. She is a former receptionist and is now an active volunteer.
More about Kaye
Kaye feels she has learned and experienced a lot in her life, both good and bad. She feels the world has become smaller because of travel and the internet, but is worried that we can live in a place where we do not even know our neighbours. She has observed some dramatic changes, particularly a loss of respect for older people and a focus on materialism. Although she has not experienced it directly, she talks about the vulnerability of people as they get older, particularly from theft on public transport and from youth who are unemployed or on drugs.
As Kaye has grown older she has noticed her body does not do what her mind wants it to. She explains that mentally she feels 35 but her rheumatoid arthritis limits her ability to do things such as gardening and getting up and down, which is very frustrating. She describes the pain of arthritis in the winter as sharp, like lightning and always there. Kaye prefers not to take pain relief and to take as little medication as possible. She describes body image as you age as 'frightening'. There is nothing nice about wrinkles and blemishes, and sometimes the ageing body is hard to accept, she says. However, Kaye tries to look as good as she can. She gets dressed, puts makeup on, covers up the wrinkles and gets on with her day.
Kaye retired when she was 65 because she had to. The decision was made for her and she feels that was too early. She is now an active volunteer and says this is important for her sense of feeling needed and appreciated, to feel she is helping somebody else. It also keeps her abreast of what is happening in the world. She gets to meet other people and learn new things, which keeps her life interesting. She believes that the more you interact with other people the more enjoyable life becomes. Kaye encourages other people to get involved with volunteering and thinks older people should realise they have a lot to give.
Kaye found that when her children left home she had to work out what she wanted in her own life. Initially she focused on her work but found a new role when she became a grandmother, a renewed sense of being needed. She enjoys her grandchildren, looking at the world through their eyes, teaching them and learning new technologies from them. Kaye describes that as she ages she has mellowed in her relationship with her partner and they have become more accepting of each other's idiosyncrasies. They like go to dinner and travel together but they tend to have their own interests. Kaye has noticed that she is more spontaneous whereas men tend to be more 'staid' as they get older.
Kaye describes how difficult it is to plan financially because you don't know how long you are going to live or how long your superannuation needs to last. Her needs and wants are not as great as she gets older. She tends to spend more money on the grandchildren than herself. She describes the death of her parents as a major transition in her life which made her realise her own mortality.
Kaye feels that the positive aspects of growing older are knowing yourself better and being more comfortable in your skin. Her advice is to accept yourself the way you are and make the most of what you have got, because we all have something to give. She says she wishes she talked to her grandparents more and listened to their stories as pioneers. Kaye believes we should listen to older people because they have important stories to tell and this history makes us who we are today.