Name: Marie
Age at interview: 74
Gender: Female

Marie is a 74 year old mother of three. She has five step children and, altogether, has 15 grandchildren. She is of Irish descent and has lived in Australia for 44 years. Marie is married and lives with her husband in their house in Perth, Western Australia. While she generally enjoys good health, Marie suffers from a degenerative eye disease and has rheumatoid arthritis in her fingers and neck.

More about Marie

Marie says that getting older is a positive experience because her health is generally good and she has a balanced life. As she gets older she cares less about what other people think and this is a liberating experience. She finds it easier to express her opinions and feels that as you get older the things that seemed to be important are no longer as significant. However, Marie says that now she is more likely to get stressed about how she will achieve everything she wants to get done in the week.

Some negative aspects of ageing for Marie include aches and pains, and knowing you are getting nearer to death. Marie hopes she will ""go out like a light"" without any lingering anguish, although she has not had a serious discussion about death with her family. Marie has rheumatoid arthritis which gives her a lot of neck pain, particularly in the cold weather. She finds that if she does not keep active she is more likely to sit and focus on the pain. To manage the condition she avoids lifting things, and walks a lot. To stay healthy as she gets older Marie is conscious of eating the right things, taking supplements, and getting enough exercise and mental stimulation.

Marie worked in the public sector as a clerical officer most of her life and is now an active volunteer. Compared with work, she has never had a negative experience volunteering because it is a ""level playing field"" with no competition. She enjoys volunteering because it is a way of getting involved in the community and meeting a wide cross-section of society. She says that for her, volunteering is not entirely altruistic as she volunteers in roles she is interested in and it widens her social scope. Marie believes that not being involved in the community is detrimental to your health and wellbeing because your world shrinks. She feels she needs to keep her mind active through lifelong learning and likes to keep up with current information through the internet. Marie stresses the importance of special interest groups, such as music, stamp collecting, writing groups, and wonders if there is a relationship between engaging in interest groups and preventing dementia.

Marie feels that family is extremely important. When she turned 70 her family organised a surprise birthday party, which included bringing relatives from overseas, and this made her realise how important she was. Marie believes you can live simply and still have a very fulfilling life.

Marie has noticed that people treat her differently as she has grown older, for example shop assistants are less likely to attend to her as quickly as they do younger people. She has observed that in nursing homes and in hospitals, older people are often patronised and treated like children. When it has happened to her it has made her feel angry. She believes that we need to speak to each other as people and as a society we should respect everyone, including the elderly. Marie would like to see guidelines for health professionals in order to promote these values, particularly for staff working in aged care.