Why a guide to later life?

25 November 2013

Edwina Currie describes Why a guide to later life

I can clearly recall the discussion that led to the writing of The Guide to Later Life. Six of us had just been appointed to McCarthy & Stone’s Greater Life Advisory Board and we were asked to come up with ideas on tackling the negativity and inertia that surrounds planning for later life. As six professionals aged from 57 to 75, and still working, we wanted to use our backgrounds to re-imagine ageing in a way that could help more people experience a greater later life.

Recent research conducted by McCarthy & Stone has shown that a major difficulty for older people is simply talking about their concerns about ageing with loved ones, or an embarrassment in asking for help, as well as a dearth of appropriate information. Similar issues are also faced by their loved ones when trying to offer their support.

The problems are familiar. When is it best to downsize? Can I continue to work and be active after retirement? How do I find an extra income if needed? Where do I go to when I need more care and support? And of course, what does the future have in store for me?

Without good answers to these questions, even sensible people often struggle on until it gets a bit too late. Later life presents challenges in itself, but our inability to face up to them makes it an immensely more difficult period than it needs to be.

Together we came to the conclusion that an accessible, open and friendly book would provide an introduction to many of these issues. We don’t pretend that it has all the answers, or covers every topic, but we hope it will help some older people and their families open up and start to tackle these ‘challenging conversations’. 

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