How can a frail 87-year-old contribute to her local community?

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Have you heard that you are your greatest resource? Do you or do you know someone else who wants to be involved, desires a wider purpose throughout life? Then read on.

A thoughtful woman recently wrote to a national newspaper advice column: “My mother-in-law is a reasonably spry, mentally alert 87-year-old. Physically she could be described as frail – she can’t walk far and no longer drives – but she has a lively mind, keeps up with current affairs and is very sociable. She isn’t bored but wants to feel that she still has something to offer. What could she do?”

The responding ‘advisers’ were members of the public offering individual suggestions. In publicly seeking an answer to her query the woman was rewarded with a rich plethora of possible opportunities and innovative ideas.

Her question is something that has relevance for many people, socially sidelined as having a limiting disability or condition they have to manage, however skilfully. The woman had raised the issue of the seemingly universal human need we all have to require a purpose, ambition, or direction in life.

We can no more retire permanently with ease from this basic impulse than we can without loss, cut away a piece of our emotional creative self and store it boxed aside for safe keeping, whilst hoping for a cure or solution to personal predicament on a tenderly hopeful, magical ‘one day maybe’ basis. Then, and only then, to assume we can be permitted, or enabled to retrieve neglected desires, dust off deferred life plans and bring them into active play, embodying the player we may inherently feel born to be.

Just in case any enterprising Dancing Giraffe reader may find it a useful source of inspiration in their own endeavour to be more fulfilled, an all assorted pick ‘n’ mix selection of the responding suggestions were:

• Oral History participation

• Telephone counselling/advice

• Listening to children read at schools

• Mentoring vulnerable young people

• Joining a charity focus group

• Visiting hospital in-patients

• Assist charity grant application and recruitment

• Acting as an organisations treasurer or on the board of trustees

• Reading aloud/recording for people with sight impairment

• Knitting for local charity

• Blogging

• Befriending

• Being active in the University of the Third Age

• Campaigning

A very good suggestion was to start by assessing the skills you have to offer and would like to acquire. You should also examine your personal ‘strengths, weaknesses, interests, and then research the opportunities available’ or that could be created!

Another idea was to contact a local Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) or join a Time Bank.

The permutations of choice and opportunity to resurrect and enlist negated abilities for whatever reason could be endless, once the incomparably inventive resource of your human will becomes engaged!

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