Third Age Matters

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In a quiet moment before we embarked on what was to become an epic trip to Rome, I settled down to read the U3A magazine ‘Third Age Matters’, produced quarterly, writes Caroline Green of WEtherby U3a.

It’s full of information, offers, contributions, advertisements and wise words……just like many other periodicals, except that this one is geared very much towards the retired, semi-retired and anyone else who has the slightest interest in the vagaries of older age.

Two thirds of the way through the magazine I came upon an article written by a U3A member, headed ‘You can travel with just 35 words of a language’. This looked like just the thing! With a week to go and my own guidebook already showing signs of preparation, I decided to see if I could lay my hands on a copy. The references at the bottom of the article led me straight to the source and two days later my new book, priced £4.99, arrived through the letter box. As soon as it arrived, I set about stringing several Italian words together and loved how the layout encouraged the reader to turn the page.

I referred to the Rome trip as ‘epic’ and indeed it was. It was only a week and it was classed as a pilgrimage, but for several people it was much more, and it became both a journey and an adventure. For others it was the break in routine that brought about its own difficulties.

Going on a holiday or a trip can present its own challenges at the best of times and as we age, those challenges mainly concerning health, can really impact on our well-being. However prepared we are in mind, body and suitcase prior to embarking on any adventure, we must acknowledge that there will be some disruption to our daily routine. Our diet, our time clock, our hobbies, our friends and family commitments will be on hold for the period we are away.

We had some early mornings starts, a few long drives and walked miles during the week. We had the immense privilege of seeing many wondrous and historical sites, experienced a once in a lifetime celebration and enjoyed the company of new and old friends alike. It was a most exhilarating and exciting trip and only on my return home did I realise just how tired I was and how I’d missed the routine that is my life. It made me think carefully about the importance of the structure of everyday activities and how important that structure is to our mental and physical health.

This structure enables us to keep well, to function in our environment, to contribute to our community and enjoy everything that is good in life. It enables us to cope with difficult times, to be supported by friends, and in turn to support friends. In Wetherby and District, the U3A plays a real and important role in keeping its ageing population well and occupied. The structure of the organisation and its regular communications with its members in the form of Newsletters, Third Age Matters and groups, keeping people in touch with each other and the wider community. Written communication enables people who are not active physically to be a part of this community by reading about it, and those who are going through illness and injury to keep in touch with their friends through the various group activities to which they belong. You may think I’m stating the obvious but its not obvious to everyone as, it wasn’t to me. If we’re able to go on trips, pilgrimages and adventures, meet new people and make new friends, we are most fortunate.

I found a second article in the U3A Third Age Matters publication, under the title Review. It was written by journalist Stephanie Ferguson who was reviewing a book called ‘A Better You in Later Life’, by John Molyneux entitled ‘Listen to your body’. Simply written, sensible, supportive and easy to follow is how she describes it.

Third Age Matters is a valuable resource for retired older people and has a big fan in John Bercow……perhaps he’ll join our ranks soon! If you’d like to enjoy a wider perspective on the U3A nationally check out the website www.u3a.org.uk;