It is not every day that you glimpse an insight into your future but when you do please take note to learn from what you experience and from those around you.
For the past four weeks I have had the privilege of living amongst a group of retirees, all over the age of 60 years, in the Umdoni Retirement Village, Pennington, South Africa. The main purpose of my visit was to visit family who moved there 8 years ago, spend time with them and visit surrounding areas.
What I didn’t expect was the inspiration and warm welcome that I would receive from the village community as a whole.
My initial introduction to Village life was an invitation to an 80th birthday party on my first morning to celebrate neighbour Noel’s locally termed OBE (Over Bloody Eighty!). A free party for a group of up to 10 people held when each resident has their 80th birthday party.
Other activities I participated in:
I joined c.30 women of all shapes, sizes, and physical ability in a 45 minute gentle exercise routine. Participants included amongst others: a woman in her 70s recovering from a stroke, the left side of her body still affected and requiring assistance from her right side; a lady who made use of a mobility scooter to get to the Village hall and back; me (just shy of 54 years) and a variety of people and abilities in between including those recovering from injuries and operations.
Physical exercises covered a wide range of co-ordination, balancing, stretching and strength movements.
A few mental exercises were thrown into the mix such as reciting backwards, in your head; days of the week, months and numbers. I have to say the exercise tutor didn’t give much time for slack on these!
Many attendees arrived 30 minutes early and/or lingered afterwards to have chats with their neighbours, bringing a social element into the physical and mental activities of the morning.
What struck me afterwards was how my experience affirmed the old saying “it’s not can’t, it’s won’t”. These c.30 women didn’t have to attend the class, but they did, and however little or as much effort they put into it was worthwhile, improving both physical and mental health.
A monthly highlight on the Village calendar of activities is a Village quiz which takes place in the club house, complete with bar run by residents on a rota basis. The room was packed, filled with locals and their friends. During the course of the evening there were at least 6 mini power outages, to be honest I lost count there were so many! The locals were clearly prepared, with many bringing their own battery-operated torches for their tables and the quiz master wearing a head torch when required. Some of the questions were very challenging, especially as the rounds got harder. Not one team received full marks!
Each morning I accompanied my relatives, who are in their very early 70s, on a morning walk around the Village, something they do at speed to help keep their heart rate up. On our first venture out I was surprised at how fast they were going! It was a great start to the morning and reminded me that on days that I don’t have an exercise class planned I should get myself out of bed and go for a fast 30-45 minute walk locally to get myself going for the rest of the day.
With a temperate climate lending itself to living outdoors all year round it is not surprising that a number of residents invite one another over to their place, or agree to meet at a restaurant or bar, for impromptu and planned drinks and food. Clearly not everyone socialises in this way, but I did notice that those who did retained a youthful happy bounce to their step.
Without fail everyone that I met in the Village said to me:
“This is your future you are looking at, aches and pains and injuries etc. Make the most of life whilst you can.”
What I have taken away from my experience of living in Umdoni Village for a short period of time is to live in the moment, enjoy life whilst I can and more than anything to make the effort to be active and socialise with others when able to.
Who or what inspires you?