Keep dancing, says Lesley — it's a quickstep to feeling good
Staying active We can all help older people who feel isolated from society, says Lesley Joseph, ambassador for Age UK’s 'No one should have no one' campaign and the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.
How should society be tackling the issue of loneliness in older people?
In this digital age, we need to be aware that some older people can't keep up with things like computers and social media. They just like to talk and chat, maybe over a cup of tea, or a visit to the shops. So if you know of an older person who either lives or their own, or a couple who are not as mobile as they used to be, then drop in, pick up their shopping or take them to the shops, engage them in conversation, or see if they would like a lift to see their family, or to an event. Or maybe help them Skype a family member. We all need to think of ourselves as a community, and communities look out for each other. Sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference.
What are the most important ingredients for enjoying later life?
Later life should be about fulfilling all those dreams you had when you were younger but never had time to do. It's about spending precious time with your family and friends and saying 'no' to things you don't want to do. It's about relaxing and keeping fit and walking and exploring — and just enjoying life.
What's the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given?
My mother, who died last year aged 103, said you should only ever worry about things you can change and not worry about things you can do nothing about.
What activities do you enjoy in the summer months?
I love walking. I also love sailing. Plus, I have a passion for stately homes, so wherever I am I try to visit them and immerse myself in the history of the house. My mother played tennis into her nineties and also loved line dancing, and I would encourage any older person — as a way to keep and make friends — to enrol in a class and go along once a week to join in with others and dance away. Then have tea and cake!
What was it like dancing on Strictly Come Dancing?
Strictly was an amazing experience: sometimes daunting, nerve-wracking and very hard work, but I would not have missed it for the world. We had a wonderful group of people, all great fun but also with a very high standard of dancing ability... so you had to work hard to keep up! Anton and I laughed a lot and I miss the daily training sessions we had.
Do you have any health or beauty secrets?
I try to watch what I eat and not get too overweight. Walking a lot helps keep me fit; and I do yoga regularly. I also try to look after my face by always cleansing at night and putting on night cream. But I think the key to growing older is exercise. Keep mobile!