Hans is 84 years old and has lived in the Netherlands his whole life. A few years ago, he got fascinated by the concept of growing older. Since then, he immersed himself in the subject through reading, reflecting on his own experiences and that of his friends, and by visiting nursing homes. Now, he has developed his own ideas about growing older and he shared some of them with us.

You stay the same

Growing old is different for everybody. Some are lucky and can live healthy and independent until old age and some are unlucky and have to deal with chronic diseases or impairments that heavily impact their day to day life. Hans considers himself one of the lucky ones. This realisation he got from personal experiences and seeing how some of his friends would deteriorate quickly. Another realisation he got through personal experiences is that you don’t change much when you get older. Yes, your mental and physical health may decline but in essence, you stay the same.

“That is something that surprised me as I got older. I still like everything I liked when I was younger. Your personality doesn’t change. I still get the same joy from scoring a point as I did in the past. Only now, maybe it is with jeux de boules instead of soccer.”

Be proactive

Hans believes growing old is not just affected by luck. There is a lot you can do to make your older years more pleasurable. After retirement, some people don’t know what to do with their time and sit at home. But now that you have that free time, there are so many things you can explore!

“I am convinced that doing nothing all day does not make you happy. You want to have a drive. You want to put your energy into something, otherwise you end up in a very small world. ”

Living in a nursing home

Hans has visited several nursing homes in the past year as he was curious about what life in a nursing home is like. He went inside with the question: can these people be happy here? The answer he got was yes. But here lies a huge role for the caregivers. Most people in the nursing homes he visited were dependent and had to rely on others for most of the time. This means that the caregivers have a great deal of influence on how the day is spent. You cannot expect caregivers to meet the desires of all the residents they take care of all the time. This translates into the fact that sometimes activities are organised with all the residents and you can see that not everyone is there for their own fun.

“It is not feasible to give the extra time the residents need. There is already a shortage in personnel and the system is already not affordable..”

Hans thinks that the Dutch healthcare system is doomed to collapse. But he thinks, maybe that is necessary for real change to occur.

“We need other housing initiatives. Just relying on nursing homes won’t cut it.”

Not here to pass on life lessons

According to Erik Erikson, a developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst, as a senior, the most important task is to pass your experience and life lessons to others. Hans says about this:

“I don’t see it that way. I also haven’t come across this idea in my surroundings. There is no point in teaching lessons to your children or grandchildren. I don’t think that is your role as a parent. You may learn life lessons from the way your parents or grandparents are in life, but not from the things they tell you.”

It is in the little things

Hans thinks about his future, but he doesn’ t worry.

“I am not concerned with the misery that may come with old age. There is no point in worrying about the future.”

He lives together with his wife. Where Hans is very positive in life, he sees that his wife experiences growing old differently. She doesn’t experience the drive Hans talks about. But if you don’t experience a drive, life can still be wonderful. You can get a lot of happiness from the little things in life, Hans concludes.

Our Project “A Common Challenge - Two Different Cultural Perspectives” funded pursuant to IPA II is entitled to be supported by CENTRAL FINANCE AND TENDER DEPARTMENT of TURKISH MINISTRY OF TREASURY AND FINANCE.

Netherlands Office

Kattenburgerstraat 5 / G003D
1018 JA Amsterdam

Turkey Office

Güven Education and Health Foundation
Güven Çayyolu Sağlıklı Yaşam Kampüsü,
Alacaatlı Cad. No: 15



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