What We Missed at the Older People’s Fun Day

Written by Jo Carroll on .


In my last column I grumbled about Wiltshire Council’s arrangements for an Older People’s Fun Day, when all those over 55 were invited to ‘pop along’ to Trowbridge and join in the jollity.

Now the Council have told the press what we missed.  For they are, apparently, hugely proud of the success of this day.  The population is getting older, they remind us. And so the achievements of the elderly should be celebrated.  This day, apparently, was designed to do just that.

So how did they do it?

There was Tai-Chi and Line Dancing.  There were quizzes and word searches during lunch.  There was a Tea Dance to round off the afternoon.  Just what every old person dreams of, to cheer up a wet day in October?  Some, I’m sure, loved it……  maybe not all of us.

But the Council seem most proud of their sing-along. Singing, they tell us, is good for our health.  There were even costumes and props so we could have joined in ‘all the old favourites.’

Which left me wondering.  Who defined favourites? For there is research to show that as we age the music that has most resonance for us are the tunes that were around in our teens and young adulthood.  So my old aunt, born in 1920, would Pack Up Her Troubles in her Old Kitbag.  Those born in the early years of the war would jiggle to Rock Around the Clock.

For here is where the good intentions (I’m flattering them) of the Council fall down.  This event was open to people over 55.  Most 55-year olds are working.  Some are ill, others are carers – in which case they have particular needs not met by an event such as this.  However, putting that aside, we know that many people have another 40 years to live after the age of 55.

So, does anyone fill a room with people between the ages of 15 and 55 and assume they will dance to the same music?  Know the answers to the same quiz questions?  Are all longing for a game of football?

We change all our lives.  We develop new interests and new abilities.  I know nobody who settles at 55 and assumes that a sing-along is all they have to cheer them up between here and the Grim Reaper.  We are a vibrant, interesting and disparate group – which, if the Council had only thought to ask us before setting up their Fun Day, we could have told them.

That said, I love a good sing. Give me a sparkly jacket and I’ll give you a great Freddie Mercury: I Wanna Break Free……..

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