Talk to old people.

Not just your grandparents. Go to a residential/nursing home and go talk to old codgers you’ve never met. Why? No one deserves to be isolated the way some of our elderly are. It’s hard to maintain a big circle of peers when you were born under the premiership of David Lloyd George, and you can’t get out much because your legs or your bladder won’t keep you going for long.

It’s not their fault. It’s not yours either, but you have the physical capital to spare.

I don’t think I should need to convince anyone that long life is central to human culture as we know it. Seriously, the reason we don’t butcher each other nearly as much is that we have much older leaders. That’s just one positive effect of keeping these silver-haired sages around.

What about the ones going a bit fuzzy in between the ears? Here’s an anecdote. My parents ran a residential home for 17 years, and I actually spent the first eight years of my life living in the same building. My absolute favourite moment was speaking to a little man called Joe. (I wish I could find his last name.) He was about 5’4, he had brilliant blue eyes, and he was rather senile. A happy fog, you could say.

One day I managed to click something in his head. A memory of the 40s from a throwaway comment about Italy. I don’t remember exactly, I’m getting old you know…

Little Joe sits up straight in his chair, face aglow with a huge smile, and starts babbling in perfect Italian.

Beautiful.

Christmas is coming, and 450,000 old people in the UK will be spending it alone. You can make it better.

Just use your legs while you still can.

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Author: Stuart Hughes

Twenty-something from the hills and vales of Wales, grappling with the logistics of becoming a little more cosmopolitan.

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