Elderly Defying Senior Stereotypes
Written by Victoria Johnston on 16th January 2018
Older people around the world are proving that later life can be anything but dull.
In the UK, John Lowe, a former prisoner of war in Japan, took up ballet at the age of 79. By the time he approached his 90th birthday, Lowe was dancing professionally, rehearsing at his local dance school three times a week and practicing at home every day to stay in shape. He is Britain’s oldest ballet dancer.
The oldest professional model in the world is 89-year-old Daphne Selfe who grew up during the Second World War and has been gracing magazine covers since 1949. She comments, “Less of the ‘old’ please, I’m still a teenager inside!”
In May 2013, Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura, then aged 80, reached the summit of Mount Everest and became the oldest person to scale the world’s highest mountain.
Miura, a professional skier who had undergone heart surgery in 2007, says that if one regards the age of 80 as a start, his or her life will become more interesting.
Sitting at a desk alongside two of his grandchildren, Kimani Maruge first attended school in 2004, aged 84. He was taking advantage of a decision by the Kenyan government to introduce primary schooling for free.
Maruge boarded a plane for the first time in 2005 and travelled to New York to address the UN World Summit on the importance of free education. Maruge died in 2009, but older people in Africa have been going to school ever since.
In 2014, Hildegund Buerkle, who was born in 1934, smashed the record for the 100m sprint for women aged 80–84 while competing at the European Veterans Athletics Championships in Izmir, Turkey. She crossed the line with a time of 18.16 seconds, racing her way to a European and world record.