This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
How refreshing it is to read a book written by an author who lives her life in the real world. Jane Gordon is well known to many of you. Her career has spanned over many years. She is a columnist on The Mail on Sunday, The Sunday Mirror and most recently her column ‘Mum and Me’ in The Sunday Telegraph.
A few years ago, Jane had a serious car accident on her way home from a day out with her son. Fortunately, both of them were not too seriously injured but it was enough for Jane to take stock. Jane who was in her early sixties had not given her health a thought. But days of being in hospital and having to have everything done for her made her reflect on how things could be in later years.
It was then that her BFF Belle, a.k.a Annabel, gave Jane a birthday present of Ballroom Dance lessons. After a little persuasion, they both went along. The classes, run by the enthusiastic and energetic Ian Waite, were testing but fun. Jane writes in a very amusing and charmingly self-deprecating way. She reflects on how poor her co-ordination was as a child and still is. Belle on the other hand seems to be a natural!
Encouraged by this first foray into the world of health Jane visits Professor Jon Simons at the Institute of Behavioral & Clinical Neuro Science at Cambridge University. He gives Jane advice on ways to stimulate her brain moving forward into the latter years. Jane is tested before and after her adventures. The results were remarkable.
So, on his recommendation Jane commences various activities. Of course, some appealed to her more than others. Some she did on her own and others she did with Belle. She and Belle attempted to learn the recorder together with home schooling. Now that would be very appropriate for today’s lockdown. Friendly competitiveness arose with Jane learning Baby Shark and Belle with her rendition of My Heart Will Go On. I’m not sure either one was going to make the London Philharmonic but it obviously was a fun activity to do together.
The Advanced Motorist Course cured her fear of reversing into a parking space and made her road aware. Learning French with teacher Arnaud prepared her for a family trip to France and especially her trips to the French supermarkets.
The chapter on Sex and the Single (or married) Sixty-Something brought tears to my eyes. I have to say I am glad I wasn’t there with Jane and Belle. Suffice to say the words masturbation and orgasm were words much used!
Jane explores so many different ways to stimulate the brain from physical training with her personal trainer Ash, Meditation with Belle and three other friends led by Magic Mike, Two Dots App on the phone. She goes out of her comfort zone with Life Drawing but finds she really enjoys it. She looks at the mysteries of the microbiome.
As a result of participating in these and other new activities, Jane definitely feels her cognitive abilities have improved greatly and has incorporated many of these new skills into her everyday life. She now looks forward to continuing in this vein for many years to come.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and have come away feeling more positive about ways to enter my later years. I am now energised to look at activities that could improve my brain. I don’t think I can use the lockdown as an excuse.
To purchase How Not To Get Old from Amazon click HERE