From South Tweed Heads to Brisbane it is approximately 100 kilometers, and to do this journey on public transport is not simple. It requires coordinating two buses, a train, and a taxi to your final destination – making it a trip close to three hours.
Two weeks ago I watched, with a great deal of admiration, a very good friend of my mother’s – Jean -make a decision to visit her grandson. Travelling from her home in South Tweed Heads to his home located in a inner-suburb of Brisbane, and then making the return journey home to South Tweed Heads all before dark.
Why the admiration? Jean is over the age of 90, has hearing aids, and uses a walking stick.
I would think that for a majority of people over the age of 80 the thought of tackling the complexities of modern public transport would be all too daunting, and would never even consider the option of making such a trip on her own.
Jean’s confidence and clarity of thought is commendable, although you may consider her achievement as minor in comparison to the following amazing record breakers:
- At the age of 102 Frenchman Robert Marchand broke the hour cycle record for a person over the age of 100 by clocking up and impressive 26.9 kilometers, and I should mention he did hold the previous record which he set when he was ‘only’ 100.
- Sister Madonna Buder, known as ‘The Iron Nun’, at the age of 84 become the oldest finisher of an Ironman race under the 17-hour cut off in 16 hours and 32 minutes – Sister Madonna has completed 45 ironman races.
- Fauja Singh, at the age of 93, ran the London Marathon in a record breaking 6 hours, 7 minutes, and 13 seconds.
- Yuichiro Miura became the oldest person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest at the age of 80 – he had summited twice already in his lifetime – all since turning 70!
Yes – I know all of these achievements are physical in nature, but just like Jean’s trip to Brisbane they all still require a great degree of confidence and belief in oneself.
Unfortunately, studies show as we age our self-confidence erodes, and our self-belief that we are able to tackle any task with a degree of complexity, or physical endurance, disappears.
One part of the reason for this loss of confidence, I believe, is our changing physical appearance.
Self-confidence does have a lot to do with how we perceive our own appearance, and how we believe other people view us on the surface.
The unfortunate fact is that no matter how healthy you are, how well you look after yourself or how young you may feel, aging will always still happen. Your skin becomes a little saggy, you develop wrinkles and age spots, and for a large percentage of the population (myself included) you can lose your hair.
You can of course fight these changes with creams, Botox, surgery, and (heaven forbid) a hairpiece! but in the end all these efforts will mean very little.
So – what’s the answer? No, it’s not avoiding the mirror in your bathroom first thing in the morning.
Rather, I would prefer:
- Focus on your life experience, your relationships, and your personal achievements to date.
- Remain passionate about your life – remember that for most of us that is a far better option than the ‘alternative’.
- Stay positive and try not to focus on the negative.
- As we have always preached, stay active both physically and mentally.
- Remember, regardless of your age, your appearance is only a small part of the reason you are beautiful.
- And – according to the latest Australian Census data – 85 is the new 65!
I do understand there are numerous other reasons for the loss of confidence in older people, from a person’s declining health to difficulty understanding forever changing technology.
However – if we can shift our focus I believe we can all remain vibrant and active members of our society.