Quick recap – yours truly researched 104 older people in London to better understand more about them. We wanted to understand for example, were they inclined to be more positive or negative about their futures, were they more intraverted or extraverted, what were the main activities that occupied them most days, and what they looked forward to the most in the week. We also wanted to explore what kept them up at night (figuratively and literally) and what stopped them from doing what they wanted or loved to do. For the pointy heads, this is a research snowball methodology and it is insight building.
As you can imagine this was beyond fascinating. Slightly more people saw their lives ahead of them rather than behind them, and there was a fairly even split on intraversion vs. extraversion. They most looked forward to meeting friends and family (in that order) and would try and do that daily if possible. Many spent a large part of the waking day with the tv on as a constant companion (average 6.5 hours). We found, poor health, especially dementia, lack of money or absolutely nothing were the things that worried older people and similar factors also stopped them from doing activities they wanted to do. If you are interested in having a geek off with us, we could discuss the findings of the qualitative research that we intend publishing with Age UK.
The following are their words, unvarnished, so to keep it real.
What sort of activities do you do most of the day
‘I watch TV, read books. I watch at least 10 hours of TV a day. I want to move, but also want to stay. I depend heavily on the carer.’
‘I watch lot’s of TV – historical programmes, Midsomer murders, and see the grand children’.
‘I love knitting and giving it away, designing scarves for cyclists. There is nothing to watch on TV, but is is on 6/7 hours a day’.
On the other side of the spectrum there were a small minority of very active people:
‘I am the editor a magazine, active as an ad manager, reading, running a social club, entertaining family.’
‘Tennis, gym, walking, gardening, consulting work, directorships, babysitting granddaughter.
What do you look forward to the most in the week?
‘Getting out. I would be lost without my diary. Seeing my grandchildren.’
‘Being with other people, if it’s mindless or not that doesn’t matter, (just like the social). Going to the allotment. I couldn’t go for the last 18 months. I grow beans / vegetables / potatoes.’
‘Reading newspapers, make tea and doing the cross word.’
What worries and keeps you up at night?
‘Going to the doctors constantly, makes me feel like a hypochondriac. Worried about dementia – seems like lots of people are getting it’.
‘Money, health, do not want to end up in a nursing home.’
‘What’s the point of worrying?’
We particularly liked: ‘My husband’s health and his snoring’.
Finally – what obstacles hold you back from doing what you want?
‘Age and lack of confidence.’
‘Health, money, transport.’
‘I don’t go out in the dark, I feel frightened.’
’Nothing – I’m defiant’