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Introducing ageing
Introducing ageing

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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

Timing: 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.

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Video 1 A day in the life of Monty Meth
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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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Here is what one person wrote:

Me, age 41Monty, age 87
Living situationWith my partner and her three kids.Lives with his wife; children have grown up and left home.
HealthOkay. 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 responsibilitiesThe 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 workFull time.Does not do any paid work.
Unpaid workNone 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 lifeNot 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.
BusynessToo 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 lifeFairly 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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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 situationWith my mum.With my step-brother.
HealthHas asthma – mostly seems to be okay though.Fine.
Family responsibilitiesNone, as far as I know.Still doing the laundry, cleaning and cooking for my step-brother.
Paid workSometimes. He never seems to manage to keep jobs for long.Works part-time at a garden centre.
Unpaid workNone, 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 lifeAt 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.
BusynessNot very busy.Pretty busy, but do not think she feels ‘too busy’ like I do.
Satisfaction with lifeI 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.