Before she retired, 83-year-old Margaret Rose worked with elderly people. “And now I am one!” she laughs.

Margaret currently lives in sheltered accommodation in Perth and admits that, at her age, life can get very lonely.

However, she now takes part in various activities organised by her local Royal Voluntary Service as part of their First Time for Everything programme with Prudential UK, which, she says, has been a boon for her physical health and social life. The activities include an armchair exercise class, usually run every two weeks at a local church hall.

 

Health and wellbeing benefits

 

Margaret usually uses a walker as a mobility aid but, since joining the class more than a year ago, has noticed a big improvement in her health — so much so that she is now occasionally able to swap the walker for a stick.

She says: “When you're sitting down for so long, your muscles get tense, which means that when you try to stand up your knees say: 'Don't do that!' So I find the class helps loosen my muscles and the day afterwards I think: 'Right. I'm ready for anything!'"

"A painting trip, tai chi classes, bell-ringing, and a weekly lunch club..."

Other Royal Voluntary Service activities Margaret has enjoyed include a painting trip to Stirling, a visit to Scottish country clothing manufacturer, The House of Bruar, tai chi classes, bell-ringing, and a weekly lunch club. She also plays a mean game of dominoes. “I turned my nose up at the idea when dominoes was first suggested as an activity,” she says. “But I'm really enjoying it now — and it gets quite competitive.”

 

A way to make friends

 

She's also suggested line-dancing as a future Royal Voluntary Service activity. “I did ballroom dancing years ago, but I would find that very difficult now,” says Margaret. “But I've had a go at line-dancing in the past and remember doing a lot of laughing."

"If you can laugh, that's so important.”

Being with other people is the secret ingredient of a happy old age, she believes. “As you get older, it takes a bit longer to get to know people,” says Margaret. “But by doing these activities I've made quite a few new friends. The classes I do are getting bigger each week and the volunteers are super and don't try to push you into anything you don't want to do. I would miss the activities if I didn't do them.”

You only need a willingness to try something new, she insists. “I'm from Glasgow,” says Margaret. “So I'll have a bash at anything if I think I can do it. I would recommend getting involved to anyone. And if you don't like a particular activity, try something else, because there are plenty of things you can do instead. If you're willing to involve yourself, you'll get something out of it.”