Are you a woman born between 1945 and 1965? Do you feel you haven’t reached your prime yet – that you’re too young to get old? If so, you’re the sort of reader Christine Webber is writing for in Too Young to Get Old.
Early in the book she shares some of the findings from her survey of female baby boomers:
- On average we view ourselves as being 16 years younger than we really are.
- The thing we value most about the age we are now is self confidence.
- Other things we love are increased wisdom, more freedom – and bus passes!
- 65% of us are anxious about getting dementia
- Our greatest fear is of becoming immobile
- We also worry about losing control of our lives
She goes on to say, ‘although the survey also showed we had loads of ambitions, many of these are rather vague and non-specific, and not yet planned for in any serious way.’ Too Young to Get Old aims to provide the information and resources to help female baby boomers clarify and achieve their ambitions. This includes:
- A range of options for women who feel they’re too young to retire – including different types of work, studying, temping, volunteering or running a business.
- How to start to take control of your finances, from ideas for cutting down on your spending to sources of expert advice.
- How to become more active (only 16% of people who completed her survey were doing 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise five days a week), including the vexed question of motivation – and how to eat more healthily and lose weight.
- The importance of exercising both our bodies and our mind, on the grounds that it is better to use them than lose them!
- The value of compressed morbidity (ie live longer but die quicker, with fewer years of chronic illness – what we’re focusing on here at Age Watch). Exercise and a healthy diet feature strongly here.
- Fashion tips, to ‘make the very best of what we’ve got’ – and a range of Beauty Advice (although this ends with these words: ‘Real beauty shines out of the eyes – and it comes from being confident in ourselves, and having a zest for life. No beauty parlour or cosmetic surgeon can give you that’).
- Love and Relationships – a wide ranging section with material on sexual satisfaction, livening up long term relationships, relationship break ups, and new relationships.
- The importance of friendship – and how and why friendships may need to change over time.
- How and where to spend our final years (given that 95% of the baby boomers she surveyed didn’t want to end up in a care home). This includes ideas on travel, second homes and relocating, living abroad, co housing projects and homeshare, living with friends and multi generational living, spiritual life and a simpler life.
As this quick summary illustrates this is an ambitious book for an ambitious generation, whose lives have often been very different from those of their own mothers and whose futures may be just as different.
The nostalgic references back to the 1960’s and 1970’s may provoke mixed responses in a book which aims to help us look to the future. The title too is probably a bit misleading. Too Young to Get Old, The Baby Boomers Guide to Living Life to the Full is, alas, only for female baby boomers.
However, this targeting is probably a strength. It enables Christine Webber to home in on many of the issues and dilemmas women face. This is illustrated by a sad example from a teacher the author knows: ‘I’m sitting on a health time bomb. My husband and I don’t get on and he’s the sort of guy who thinks that salad is for rabbits and exercise is for fools. He hasn’t looked after himself at all. I need to leave now. If I wait till he’s had a stroke, it’ll be too late.’
This is a lively, well written, optimistic guide for a generation. It is full of information and ideas (and each section has a list of useful organisations and contacts if you want to find out more). As the author explains, because baby boomers don’t see themselves as old in the traditional sense they don’t think of looking to traditional sources such as Age Concern – hence the value of a book they are likely to see as speaking more directly to their needs and interests.
Too Young to Get Old – Christine Webber (Piatkus) ISBN 978 – 0 7499 – 5274 - 7