KICKING  THE BUCKET WHILE YOU STILL CAN

I can’t believe that we are half way through the year already! Can you remember making any New Year resolutions? Probably now a long lost memory, writes Monica Dyson.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019, 15:29
Bryan Taylor, a 64 year old who does 'Dare Devil' activites with a social group called Spice.

I can’t remember mine but then I put that down to old age. The favourites with my contemporaries seemed to be losing weight, drinking less, getting a new hobby and saving money. Pretty achievable things, but how many do remember the ‘bucket list’ for retirement that they compiled before they actually did retire?

A recent poll suggests that many over 55s have a secret ‘bucket list’, which they hope will come to fruition. Of course for many people it may never happen due to ill health or finances that are not quite as good as they had hoped for.

A film of a few years ago featured a couple of elderly men played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman who met in a hospital ward. They suffered from terminal illnesses and decided to compile a bucket list of places they wanted to see and things they wanted to do before they died. They visited The Taj Mahal and Pyramids, went skydiving, drove a mustang car, a motor cycle on the Great Wall of China, flew over the North Pole and went on safari in Africa. Probably of course ‘spending the kid’s inheritance.’

As a result of the film, it became the ‘in’ thing to compile a bucket list at whatever age but especially with pensioners. It seems that people over 65 are not prepared to grow old gracefully or kick the bucket without the bucket having been well and truly filled with adventures first. That has to be the ultimate in New Year resolutions. 

However it can be easier said than done. Health and finances are usually the things prohibiting us from doing more than we do at present. The recently deceased father of William Hague, the Tory politician, completed the daring feat of wing walking on a Boeing Stearman PT17 Kaydet when he was 86 years old. He said ‘Skydiving and wing walking is something everyone should do before they kick the bucket!’ Not for me though! Mind you he had to be the exception to the rule didn’t he? Happily he died having no regrets!

A recent survey in the UK by ‘Centra Pulse’, a company specialising in telecare alarms and helping pensioners live independently by the help of technology, asking two thousand people over the age of sixty five to compile a list of must dos. The results showed a real lust for travel in older people with most listing it as their main goal. Although when the Insurance company ‘Engage Mutual ‘asked younger people what their bucket list would be, travel featured largely on that also, particularly things like swimming with dolphins, riding a Harley Davidson on Route 66 and flying in a hot air balloon. Of course time is on their side, but for those whose ultimate ambition was to get a tattoo and in one case, own a Mulberry handbag! How sad.

But it’s a shame that so many older people have never managed to realise their dreams when they were younger because of financial restraints and family commitments and it’s not too late now if you can manage it. The top ten most highly rated on the pensioners bucket list included:

Travelling the world, also with a desire to travel on Route 66 although maybe not on a Harley Davidson.  Live to a hundred. Write a bestselling novel. Win the lottery. See their family settled. Fall in love. Learn a language.

Some of those can definitely be grouped together. Winning the lottery would certainly give your family financial security and see them settled. You may well discover a whole lot more family than you originally thought you’d got. 

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Living to a hundred might just provide enough time to write that novel and to learn a language, but beware, time is marching on. 

And as for falling in love? Well if you were a lottery winner you’d find plenty of love, but your children might not be too pleased. 

But it all comes down at the end of the day to finance and health. Many pensioners are hard pressed to be able to afford five days with Shearing’s, let alone an exotic holiday destination, and as for doing something exertive, getting out of bed is often the ultimate exercise in many cases. It would seem that finding the balance between financial security to ensure that your retirement years are comfortable whilst making sure that life is lived and experienced fully according to your circumstances is the most many of us can hope for.

But we could compile a much more doable bucket list couldn’t we? With some bucket lists being very much different and more affordable.

Day trips to see parts of Britain that you’ve always meant to visit. Coach fares are cheap enough, and do the pensioner thing of taking sandwiches and a flask.  Join a walking group or fitness class. Explore parts of Sheffield you’ve never really seen in depth before. There is a wonderful book by Michael Glover called ‘111 places in Sheffield you shouldn’t miss.’ You’ll be amazed just what is on your doorstep!

Look out for neighbours who are on their own and may be desperately lonely. You may make a new friend to do things with.

 Read a book or two every month. I can’t speak highly enough about the services provided by local libraries. They are also a mine of information about what’s going on near you to include opportunities to become a ‘silver surfer’ or learn a language or simply just join a social group.

Volunteer at schools to help children with their reading or become an exam invigilator.

But above all, do something.  Give the bucket a kick while there is still time!