In our Tafta blog, we write about anything and everything to do with active ageing, and promoting a life worth living, regardless of age
By virtue of her age, 65 year old Susan is entitled to pensioners’ discount at her supermarket. “But I’m not a pensioner,” she says, “And I’m certainly not old!
“I’m still running my own successful business and keeping up a punishing schedule. I’m also still running – literally – although I’m not, and never have been, Comrades material.”
Susan is typical of today’s ‘young-old’ generation (those aged between 65 and 75 years), who are challenging the stereotype of retired people pottering round the garden in their slippers, or baking cookies with their grandchildren.
The so called ‘yold’ are wealthier, fitter, more active and socially engaged than previous generations of seniors. They’re travelling more, swelling the ranks of ‘mature students’ at universities, and transforming the health and insurance sectors. And many are working on into their late 60s and 70s.
“I enjoy the finer things in life – eating out, going to the theatre, being able to replace my car every few years, holidays abroad. Last year a friend and I went on a cruise and had the time of our lives! Although I’ve saved for my retirement, I’ll have to be a lot more careful with money then. I’d rather keep on working as long as possible so I can continue living the life I love.” Gina, 66
Continuing to work is one of the factors that help keep old age at bay. A German study found that the cognitive decline associated with ageing is lessened in people who carry on working past normal retirement age. Living lives of purpose and usefulness also boosts their self confidence.
“Going to work gives me a reason to get up in the morning. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I sat around at home all day. I’m sure my brain would shut down. And it would drive my wife crazy! ” Raffik, 71
Many companies assume that older employees are less productive. But the study found that older workers have, if anything, slightly above-average productivity. Teams of workers from multiple generations are the most productive of all.
“Since my divorce ten years ago, I’ve lived alone. Some weekends I can go the entire day without speaking to a living soul. I look forward to getting to the office on Mondays, where I’m part of a lively team. Most of the others are much younger than me, but they treat me with respect. I’m their ‘go-to’ person whenever the figures don’t balance, because I’m good at spotting transposed figures and mistakes with addition and subtraction.” Benny, 68
Companies are going to be challenged to become more age-friendly – for example, they should not limit training opportunities to only younger staff members. The yold will also challenge public attitude towards older people. As people work longer and need less medical care, societies should be better off, because public spending on health and pensions should be lower.
“Although I’m nearly 70, I’m a keen scuba diver; I qualified as a dive master about 10 years ago, and have dived all over the world. It’s become more physically taxing as I’ve grown older, but there are always others in the group willing to help with the heavy equipment. Once in the water, I feel as free as a bird (or should that be a fish?). Although I can afford to retire, I see no reason to give up my freelance bookkeeping job, which helps pay for my dive trips. I also have a Saturday morning swimming class for tiny tots. Interacting with the kids and helping them to overcome their fear of the water is very rewarding.” Esme, 69
Not everyone is fortunate enough to enjoy good health and a comfortable lifestyle as they get older. But for those of us who are fit and active, the idea of fitting in with an arbitrary ‘sell by’ date which decrees we should give up work at a certain age, seems ridiculous.
Are you part of, or approaching the yold generation? What are your feelings about retirement? Please leave a comment below.
[With acknowledgement to J Parker in The Economist]
[January 20, 2020]
According to Forbes, studies have shown that less than one month into the New Year, fewer than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions. Only 8% actually accomplish them. Dismal stats if you’re hoping to reinvent yourself in 2020.
But the usual ‘get fit’, ‘lose weight’, ‘stop smoking’,’ stick to a budget’, ‘spend less time on social media’ resolutions don’t work unless there is real commitment to change. One bad day and we’re back to bingeing on comfort food, ranting on Facebook and telling ourselves that we just can’t find the time to go for a run or hit the gym.
So, with 2020 looming on the horizon, here are five important things you can resolve to do that you will follow through on because they’re quick and easy:
- Make a Will. This is a task most of us put off again and again, because we’d rather not think about a time when we’re no longer around. But it is really important to get your affairs in order – especially if you have minor children.Knowing their future is secure, that your belongings and money will go to the right people (or a charity that’s close to your heart), and that your final wishes will be respected, leads to great peace of mind. So why not make an appointment with your banker, an attorney or your financial advisor and get this important task out of the way early in the New Year.
- Do something for someone else. Volunteer to help clean up the beach, a park or your neighbourhood – or help at an animal shelter or old age home. Research shows that pitching in regularly can lead to less stress and lower blood pressure – and release those ‘feel good’ endorphins, so you actually feel happier. Contact us on 031 332-3721 to find out about volunteering for just a couple of hours a week as a Tafta Meals on Wheels ‘hopper’.
- Set aside a few hours over the weekend to clean up and de-clutter your home. Being surrounded by mess and chaos ups your stress levels, and can actually encourage you to head for the cookie jar to cheer yourself up. Donate unwanted clothing, kitchen appliances, books, toys and décor items to a charity shop like Tafta’s Granny’s Attic; you’ll have the satisfaction of a neat and tidy home plus helping a worthy cause. Call them on 031 332 3721.
- Take a break! Most of us are under pressure to get more and more done in less time. Busyness has become a badge of honour; it’s almost like a competition to prove who worked the latest last night.Stop it! Spending long hours in front of the computer doesn’t make you more productive. Take your lunch break and use it to go for a walk around the block, sit in a park to eat your sarmies, or find a comfy chair and read a few pages of your book. You’ll find you get through more work, more efficiently afterwards – and you can leave the office on time!
- Plan your next holiday – even if it’s just a weekend away. Having something pleasant to look forward to can really lift your mood and boost happiness – especially if you’re holidaying with your partner or a group of friends. Set up a holiday WhatsApp group and keep reminding each other of the treat in store. As soon as you get back from your holiday, start planning the next one!
[January 6, 2020]
‘Tis the season to give … give … give. And sadly, not all of that giving brings joy. In a world where increased inflation has you clutching at the ends to make them meet, a long Christmas gift list can be a real financial burden.
We’re not talking about choosing gifts for our nearest and dearest … but rather those obligatory gifts you buy for people simply because they always buy for you. Maxing out your credit card in order to keep up with this tradition could lead to real hardship when January rolls round.
Worse, you could unknowingly be putting pressure on the recipients of your gifts, who then feel obligated to reciprocate … at the same level … even though they can’t really afford to.
You may also stress out those who’ve made the decision to de-clutter their lives. Your gift of a new gadget, scented candle or ornament – no matter how carefully or lovingly chosen – could well be the last thing they want. But throwing it out (or re-gifting it) makes them feel really bad. You’re actually forcing them to fill their home with ‘stuff’ they neither want nor need.
Why not take all the pressure off and make a pre NUP (no unnecessary presents) agreement with your wider circle, book or social club and office colleagues? Imagine how much time (not to mention, money) you’ll save, trawling through the malls in search of the perfect gift for so-and-so?
If you really feel the need to give generously this Christmas, why not choose beneficiaries who actually need and appreciate your gifts? Pay for some kids in a children’s home to go to the movies …. sponsor a needy pensioner’s Christmas lunch at Tafta … or drop off a bag of pet food for animals in a shelter.
Stop giving reciprocal gifts, and start putting a bit more thought into what you are doing, and why. Hint: it’s possible to show someone how much you love and appreciate them without rushing to the shops for a bottle of bath salts or mini screwdriver set!
[December 2, 2019]
If you’re anticipating spending time with your grandchildren these holidays, you might be wondering how on earth to keep them happily entertained, especially if you have a limited budget or you battle with mobility.
Trips to the movies, Funworld or uShaka can put unwelcome pressure on your finances, especially if there are ice creams, hamburgers and popcorn to buy on top of the tickets.
Picnic in the park
Luckily there are cheaper options that prove just as appealing to active youngsters. If transport is available and you’re fit and active, why not take the kids for a picnic to the beach or a nearby park? Packing juice, fruit, sandwiches or cheese and biscuits is all part of the fun and younger children, especially, prefer the freedom of a picnic to sitting down to eat at a café.
The Durban Botanic Gardens offers plenty of open space for play – plus the attraction of the Butterfly Habitat Garden and the lake area with its abundant bird life. Mitchell Park is another winner – with its large playground. Entrance into the park is free, and tickets into the zoo section are affordable at only R10 for children under 12 and R6 for pensioners!
If you are housebound, there are still plenty of fun activities you can enjoy with your grandchildren. Why not gather together some paper, paints or crayons and paint a picture together? With all the technology and high end toys available these days, many kids still enjoy plain old messy fun.
If you’re a bit of a hoarder, you may have bits of ribbon, buttons, old Christmas cards and so on – as well as everyday household items like tin foil and cotton wool – that can be glued onto your picture to create interesting textures.
Every child kneads play dough
Play dough can provide hours of fun – and is suitable for a range of ages. Get the kids to help you make your own, non toxic dough.
• 2 cups flour
• ½ cup of salt
• 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
• ¾ cup of hot water
• 1 tablespoon cooking oil (or baby oil)
• Food colouring
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and form a well in the centre. Add the oil, water and food colouring* and knead into a soft dough. If the dough seems too runny, allow the mixture to rest for a few moments to give the salt a chance to absorb extra moisture. If the dough is still sticky, add a little more flour. If you want different coloured balls of dough, divide the mixture into before adding the colouring.
Now for the fun! Use cookie cutters, natural materials like stones or leaves that can be pressed into the dough to make patterns, or simply model the dough into animals and people. Play dough can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a month and used again and again.
Get creative with FunLooms
Create your own colourful jewellery with the Fun Loom Kit! This kit includes a hook, 600 colourful nontoxic silicone bands, 30 closure clips, a step-by-step guide and an expandable loom board that lets you design and make trendy accessories such as bracelets, rings, hair bands, belts, necklaces and more.
Homemark currently has a promotion on their FunLooms. For R99.95 (including shipping) you can buy a pack that will keep the grandkids busy for hours! The best part about this, is that a portion of each pack sold goes to Tafta to benefit Durban’s elders.
Put the pieces together
Older children may enjoy building a challenging jigsaw puzzle with you. Many thrift shops sell second hand puzzles at next to nothing. Or you may be able to swop puzzles with friends to provide new challenges.
Icing on the top
Kids love to help with baking, especially if there are bowls to lick afterwards or you’re using Smarties or Astros for decoration (just keep little ones away from hot ovens)! Why not rustle up a batch of Christmas cookies together and decorate them with coloured icing? These make wonderful gifts as well – so you can have fun and give pleasure at the same time.
For the sugar cookies you will need:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
Cream butter and sugar until soft and fluffly (at least 3 mins)
Beat in vanilla essence and egg
In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add a little at a time to the butter mixture until you have a stiff dough. Do not refrigerate. Roll out onto a floured surface and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Allow to cool and decorate with royal icing.
To make the icing, you will need:
3 cups icing sugar
2 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Blend together the sugar, cream of tartar and egg whites. Add vanilla essence and beat for one or two minutes. Add water if necessary to obtain a spreading consistency. Divide icing and add different food colouring as required. Pipe or spread icing over cookies and add additional decorations (eg silver balls) if required.
Have more fun ideas for holiday fun on a budget? Please share with us!
[November 19, 2019]
With nearly 10 million adult South Africans sitting at home unemployed, the introduction of a National Minimum Wage bill at the beginning of the year seems ill timed to say the least!
No one can argue with the need for workers – especially domestic and farm workers – to be protected from exploitation. But the country can’t afford to shed more jobs. And with the number of business liquidations having increased by 53% between April 2018 and April 2019, shouldn’t small businesses and NPOs at least be exempt from the National Minimum Wage (NMW)?
Exemptions for Non Profits?
Like many other NPOs, Tafta operates with limited resources. Some of our services – for example care work – are subsidised by the Department of Social Development (DSD), with the organisation being expected to fund the balance through fundraising activities. But, with the South African economy having shrunk by more than 3% in the first quarter of 2019, raising funds from local businesses and individuals has become a major challenge!
This, together with the waning DSD subsidy, is placing severe pressure on our resources to meet ever growing needs in the elder care sector – and Tafta, along with other NPOs in the care sector, may not be in a position to pay care workers the prescribed minimum wage.
In Wentworth, 12 marginalised women have been trained to provide home based care for elderly members of their community. The carers serve between 80-86 elders monthly, in return for a small stipend.
We know this payment is inadequate and we’d love to be in a position to pay our carers their real worth. But we can’t afford to. And at least these women – who previously had no income whatsoever – now have the opportunity to earn something. If we are forced to close this programme – which has been in operation for 20 years, the result will be more unemployed people and a lack of elder care in this underprivileged community.
Arguments for the minimum wage include the fact that many unskilled and semi skilled workers are sole breadwinners. Their pay may need to support a family of five, seven or even more – including children and elderly parents. But is it fair to place the burden for that on the employer’s shoulders?
Employers also under pressure
Many small business owners and employers of domestic workers are struggling themselves. Affordability is the reason many are limiting their own families to one or two children. Even then, stay-at-home moms are a rarity. Whether or not they want to, most mothers are forced to leave their babies in child care and work full time to make ends meet.
It has also been suggested that, because transport can be a problem, working hours for domestics should be 9am – 3pm. But how does this sit with someone holding down a high powered, stressful job, who seldom leaves the office before 7pm? Is that OK because they have a company car and can drive home at any time?
And what about the latest phenomenon – the side hustle?
People in full time employment are working a second job to supplement their income – selling items online, repairing computers, teaching yoga, music or English to foreigners, writing blogs, baking or cooking, or driving Ubers.
Entrepreneurial in nature, these activities offer no guarantees of minimum earnings. Yet, it’s often said that we need more entreprenuers in South Africa … creating a culture where people can turn their ideas, skills, passion and sheer hard work into an income stream. What are your views?
[October 7, 2019]