I was 74 and a grandfather when I decided to become a carer. It was something I thought I’d be good at. I’ve always been caring and I looked after my mum when she had dementia.
For most of my life I worked as an engineer until I retired at 71. I’ve also been a musician for over 60 years, singing and playing the guitar, and performing in pubs and clubs.
I’ve lost count of the number of bands I’ve played with and I’ve been on the same bill as Marty and Kim Wilde, The Nolans, The New Seekers and The Tremeloes.
As an older carer, I’ve experienced life and my customers can relate to me, I understand the way they’re thinking.
We can talk together about where we used to go for a night out. I remember the sixties, my hair is still as long as it was back then.
I’m working in an area that I’ve lived in for most of my life. Some of my customers were neighbours years ago, and lived just around the corner. They knew the same people that I knew.
I worked in the same factory as Nigel in the ‘70s but hadn’t seen him since then. When I saw him again it was very emotional. It had been a long time. He was in his nineties and living with dementia. I remembered him as a young man.
Nigel recognised me straight away, he jumped out of his chair and cuddled me, and were able to talk about our memories from over 40 years ago.
I think I have a great job, I really enjoy it. I love meeting people and seeing the difference I make to their lives.
Adrian has Parkinson’s and hadn’t played the keyboard for years. I encouraged him to play again. He didn’t think he could do it. ‘I can’t play,’ he’d say, and I’d tell him: ‘you can.’ I played the guitar and sang in his apartment as he played on the keyboard.
He brought out the videos, of when he was in a band years ago, and we watched them together. I felt I’d achieved something, that I’d made his life better. I was just trying to give him life back as it used to be.
I live on my own and the people I care for are friends to me. I look forward to seeing them and they look forward to seeing me. Some of them are younger than I am.
When I tell them I’m 76 they don’t believe it. I think it’s the way I behave. I have a young attitude to life, inside I feel about 50.
I’m awake at 6am every morning and can’t bear sitting around. I’d just be bored. I’ve always been on the go. I have plenty of energy and don’t have any aches and pains.
I work up to 40 hours a week, sometimes starting at 7am and finishing at 10pm. And I get as much out of it as the people I look after.
I love to have a chat to them. They tell me stories about their lives, and I talk about mine. It makes me feel good to think I’m brightening their day. We tell each other jokes, and I give them a bit of fun. I smile at everybody; I’ve always done that.
I’ve heard I’m popular with customers, I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the way I am, I’m very friendly, I just get them laughing. It feels like I’m getting paid to enjoy a hobby.
I think that working helps to keep me young. It feels as though I have a purpose in life. I’m helping people who are worse off than I am, and that’s what I find rewarding.
It’s great to feel useful at my age and I hope I’ll still be working in ten years’ time. I can’t see why not.
NB. The customer names in this article have been changed to protect identities.