Introducing ageing
Introducing ageing

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Introducing ageing

2 Introducing Monty Meth

In Activity 2 you will be introduced to Monty Meth, an 87-year-old man living in London. Thinking about issues through individual case studies can be a good way to start exploring ‘the bigger picture’. Case studies also help us to work through questions that are relevant for other people, in different situations.

Activity 2 A day in the life of Monty Meth

Allow about 45 minutes

Part 1

Watch Video 1. You might find it helpful to watch it through twice – all the way through to begin with, and then again, pausing it whenever you want to make notes.

Download this video clip.
Skip transcript: Video 1 A day in the life of Monty Meth

Transcript: Video 1 A day in the life of Monty Meth

[BIRDS CHIRPING]

MONTY METH:
I start the day at the Leisure Centre, which means getting up soon after five. I leave home at about half past five -- always depends on what time I get up, really. I go to bed quite early -- between half past nine and 10 o’clock. So I try and get six, seven hours’ sleep.
I start the morning with the swim, because I think it stimulates the brain, gets me thinking. The Leisure Centre opens at six, and there’s always been a group of older people -- pensioners -- who go there. Right. Here we are. I usually get a kiss from Jane.

[LAUGHTER AND INDISTINCT VOICES SPEAKING]

MONTY METH:
And I’ve always found that a source of contact that gets me going for the day. We have a chat about last night’s television, last night’s football, politics -- anything that people want to chat about, we have a chinwag.
MAN:
I’ll go get your friend and return.
MONTY METH:
I’ve made some extremely good lifelong friends at the swimming pool. There’s no question about that. You’re having a sauna today.
MAN:
[INAUDIBLE]
MONTY METH:
Are you talking to me?
MAN:
Yeah.
MONTY METH:
Because I can’t hear, can I? Yeah -- you know.
MAN:
Or I’m swearing at you.
MONTY METH:
I also feel that when I’ve ducked myself in the water, I wake up. And I use the time there, while I’m swimming up and down, I tend not to talk for -- no contact while I’m swimming. But I tend to think -- about family, friends -- but also about what I could be doing that day, what I should be doing.
Who I need to email, who I need to telephone. I wish I had a notebook under water. But I don’t. So very often I come out and I’ve forgotten what I was thinking about. But it comes back. And it’s a good stimulant for me.
And when I come out and drive home and have breakfast, I feel -- well, I’m pretty well on top of the world. I mean, I feel good.
BETTY:
Oh. That looks nice.
MONTY METH;
I get home about quarter past seven, and Betty -- my wife -- has breakfast ready. And then I usually -- after I look at the back pages of the papers, not the front very much -- I then pop into the garden, just have a look around and see that everything is OK.
I’m a bit behind this year because of the cold weather. My lifestyle is to have a bit of thinking time. And it’s surprising that out here what you can think of. These deadheads need to come off. Otherwise, new growth won’t come.
I usually go up to my office at the top of the house -- converted half of the loft into an office. We had a special ladder put in that takes me from the bedroom to the top of the house into the loft. And I climb up there. And stay up there.
My wife is not happy when I’m out of touch and out of sound. But here I am in the office, away from everybody. Very quiet. And I’m able to make my phone calls, look at the emails, do some thinking.

[COMPUTER CHORD]

MONTY METH:
I have a Macintosh Classic. I bought it in 1990. It’s still here. It’s still functioning. One chap tells me it’s worth a lot of money. I mean, I don’t know whether that’s true or not.
MONTY METH:
My main activity is obviously with the Enfield Over 50s Forum, which, when I became chair, had some 70 members. We’ve now got something like 5,000 members. I suppose we get involved in our campaigning in order to improve the quality of life of older people.
And it’s any and every issue that comes up. I write the newsletter, and that has been the source of publicising the work of the forum. Because of my contacts with the press -- I mean, I didn’t ask for them, but they approached me to write a monthly column for the newspaper under the banner of the Over 50s Forum.
We’ve always got, you know, something to do. And we think that has helped us to keep -- both of us -- touch wood -- are comparatively fit. Mentally we’re quite strong.
Put them straight up there.
BETTY:
Are you still trying to get through to Birmingham City Council?
MONTY METH:
No, I haven’t done that. We probably think that it’s been good for both of us to have outside interests -- that we’re not continually looking in on ourselves. We’ve never both sat back and wondered what we’re going to do today.
Now I’m 87 and I clearly have slowed down. If I do attend a meeting in the morning, then I feel quite tired by the afternoon. So I try and pace myself. There are times of the day when I feel tired. And I say, I’ve just got to sit down and have a rest. But then I get rejuvenated.
I can’t run to the betting shop as quick as I used to. But I go there on a Saturday morning and have a bet very often, and watch the racing on Channel 4 afternoon. Fitting in everything -- domestic, political with a small p, running the forum -- is very often very difficult.
And there are sometimes clashes and sometimes you have to have priorities, you know. We try and go to the theatre regularly, and I put that in the diary and that’s sacrosanct. But I am trying to cut down my commitments, if I possibly can. I’ve now told them I’m going to retire from running the newsletter.
Because some time I’m not going to be here, and they’ll have to carry on. So it’s what is known as succession planning. It’s about time we started it, you might think, at the age of 87. But we are.
End transcript: Video 1 A day in the life of Monty Meth
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Video 1 A day in the life of Monty Meth
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Then answer the following question:

How does Monty’s life compare to yours? What is different and what is similar?

Fill in Interactive table 1 using the first column for yourself and the second column for Monty. This will help you to think about the significance (or not) of your age and Monty’s age.

Please note: At this point you do not need to write anything in the third column (titled ‘Molly Davies, age 90’). It forms part of a later activity.

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Interactive table 1
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Comment

Here is what one person wrote:

Me, age 41 Monty, age 87
Living situation With my partner and her three kids. Lives with his wife; children have grown up and left home.
Health Okay. I seem to get constant colds and coughs, especially in the winter – think the kids bring them home from school. Really good for his age! Goes swimming every morning.
Family responsibilities The kids – looking after them practically and financially. Does not mention any family responsibilities. His wife seems to be as healthy and active as Monty, so she does not seem to need any looking after.
Paid work Full time. Does not do any paid work.
Unpaid work None except helping out at the kids’ school events sometimes. Unless you count looking after the kids! Does lots, especially through the Enfield Over-50s Forum.
Social life Not much! Can never get a babysitter. Sometimes go to the pub on a Friday night. Seems very friendly with the group of people he swims with every day. Mentions going to the theatre. It seems likely that his work with the Enfield Over-50s Forum has sociable aspects.
Busyness Too busy a lot of the time – there is just too much to fit in. Seems very busy – he goes swimming every morning as well as all the other things.
Satisfaction with life Fairly satisfied but I would like to have more time to do things for me, and more time to spend with my partner without the kids around. Seems very satisfied with his life.

Part 2

Now think about two adults that you know personally, one younger than you and one older than you. Filling in Interactive table 2 will give you two more people to compare with your own and Monty’s experiences, which will give you further information about the significance of age

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Interactive table 2
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Comment

And here is what the same person wrote in the second table:

Younger adult

My step-brother, aged 28

Older adult

My mum, aged 61

Living situation With my mum. With my step-brother.
Health Has asthma – mostly seems to be okay though. Fine.
Family responsibilities None, as far as I know. Still doing the laundry, cleaning and cooking for my step-brother.
Paid work Sometimes. He never seems to manage to keep jobs for long. Works part-time at a garden centre.
Unpaid work None, as far as I know. Is ‘Brown Owl’ of her local Brownie group and secretary of local Gardening Club. Takes a neighbour shopping every week. Visits my Gran in the care home twice a week. Helps a friend with her garden.
Social life At the pub or out clubbing most nights. Also goes on holiday with a group of friends every year. Loads – goes walking with a group of friends most weeks, goes to a pilates group, goes out for meals with friends and goes on holiday with them most years.
Busyness Not very busy. Pretty busy, but do not think she feels ‘too busy’ like I do.
Satisfaction with life I do not think he is actually very happy with his life. I know he would like his own place but cannot afford it. Pretty happy. I know she gets a bit fed up with looking after my step-brother sometimes but she also says she likes his company. She had a tough time after my step-dad left, but she seems to have come through that now and to enjoy her life.

Although Monty is presumably coming to the end of his life, he is very far from being the burden on health and social care services that the newspaper headlines predict. Indeed he seems to be contributing more to society than some younger people. He also seems to find his life enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful. So how can we explain the mismatch between Monty’s experiences and the fears people have of what it means to have an ageing population? Is Monty just really unusual or really lucky? In other words, is he typical of older people, or atypical? In the next section you will look at one answer to this question which has had a very significant influence on people working in the field of ageing.

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