Growing Old Disgracefully

Welcome to our 'Growing Old Disgracefully' blog. This is author and franchise owner, Jean Allen's ageing journey in which she'll share her adventures and experiences.

Life is a privilege, a gift. But, the price we pay for this gift is that we grow old!

I remember some words of advice from a wonderful couple that we supported as clients.   Each had either a mobility issue or a memory issue.  The lovely lady said to me two things, firstly  “Don’t bother getting old dear, it’s tough!” and secondly “We have one body between us!”  I smiled and my reply to the first statement was “Yes, but as the alternative is being six foot under, I will stick with it for now!”

This blog is about my journey into ‘old age’.  I am 66 years old now and due to osteoarthritis have already experienced quite a lot regarding coping and finding the fun in later life. I hope this blog will make folk think, laugh, and perhaps learn some useful information.

This is entirely personal and there are no endorsement arrangements with any of the companies, organisations or products I mention. I am the lady in the photo above who is sitting at the front!  Man do I need to get some fake tan!

Getting back in the saddle

Question 1: What do you do if you want to exercise but you cannot do a lot of walking?
Answer: You go cycling.

Question 2: What do you do if you have a disability and cannot ride a ‘normal bike’?
Answer: You get a super dooper electric tricycle tailor made for you.

Here is my story regarding my lean mean Hells Angels machine!

Due to osteoarthritis I am a bionic woman on my right side. I have had a right hip and right knee replacement plus I have a pin and plate in my right thigh following a collision with a dog (freak accident).  I also advanced arthritis in my feet.  This means I cannot walk a lot.

I loved the idea of going around on a bicycle but discovered my balance and leg strength were not good enough and it was not fun or safe.  I worked with Lee Pugh from ECargo Bikes Colchester and Essex County Council to try out different bikes and found the wonderful Vanraam Easy Rider.  As electric bikes are eco friendly we received financial support from the Locase Project.

The photo captures me on the bike, with Lee ready for a cycling proficiency lesson. When out and about I wear a cycle helmet and a high vis jacket. The bike has three power levels which means I can put as much effort as able into the cycling without hurting my leg. It is very comfortable to ride and following good cycling protocol, I feel safe on the roads. Of course I do cause small hold-ups when cars cannot pass me, but I follow the ‘live and let live’ principle and do my best to be a good road user.

So if you see a sassy looking lady on a lean machine, give me a wave!

Swallowing my pride with a mobility scooter

This story blends ‘balancing being practical’ with ‘being empathic to ones feelings’.

I recently attended a great Christian conference called Spring Harvest which was held in the Minehead Butlins camp. The event was held over four days and was packed with really good teaching and music. Before I went I picked out the events I wanted to attend and on day one I set off to walk from one end of the camp to the other to the various venues. That night I had a lot of pain in my feet, due to my osteoarthritis, and I realised the remaining three days would be a painful experience unless I gave in and hired a mobility scooter.

So, that’s exactly what I did and it worked like a dream and my feet thanked me! However, although the logistics were simple, the emotional hill I had to climb was not and it was tough. I had not expected to need such help this quickly. I felt a twit and a fraud using it, and it definitely did not fit my idea of a sassy older lady (I model myself on Helen Mirren).  I reached out to friends to express my feelings, and although kind, some did not ‘get’ why I was upset. There was part of me thinking ‘what a wonderful gadget’ and part of me crying in disbelief that I needed to use it.

This is a work in progress. I definitely now need a scooter for big conferences or shows so I can get around and do all I want to do. Day to day I manage by limiting walking abilities and of course use my tricycle, for longer distances. I am now looking at a very neat mobility scooter that is portable, can go on uneven surfaces, and self loads into the back of a car! More to follow on this… but for now this I encourage you to watch this wonderfully simple and insightful cartoon about the difference between sympathy and empathy and the best way to ease someone’s suffering by Dr. Brene Brown.

The Home Instead Garden

We have a Home Instead Garden! This is owned and cared for by me, Jean Allen (owner).  The purpose of the garden is to ‘give’  Nature can give us all so much, and as much as I love my garden, I do not want it just for me. So, it has been designed to be a working garden, to give to clients, Care Professionals and staff. This gives me great fullfillment as I work in the garden.

Now I am very much self taught in regards to gardening and I reckon I could publish a book entitled ‘101 mistakes in gardening’.  My hopes and dreams for the garden are:-

  • Garden parties for clients, Care Professionals and staff;
  • To grow cut flowers (help!) and gift simple bouquets to our lovely clients;
  • To harvest vegetables and give our clients the enjoyment of home grown produce.

I enlisted the help of a garden designer, Zoe, whose imagination and flare brought the garden to life for stage one. For this we installed chunky raised garden beds made from railway sleepers and some new plants. The raised beds make gardening work a whole lot easier.  Next year, 2024 we will put in a patio and wheelchair access to the garden.

This afternoon I gifted a lovely bunch of freshly cut asparagus to our networker Jo Thorne who very patiently taught me how to write and publish this blog. She richly deserved this humble gift!!!

More to follow