Bill Wallace (left) and Ivor Undara (Images: Supplied)

In our Missing Voices series, Crikey is asking our older readers to share their first-hand experiences of the pandemic.

Cynthia Kaye writes: I am 74 years old — “young old” — still in control of my life. My head understands “old” but does not yet associate “old” with me. I was offended when the government chose to categorise everyone over 70 as vulnerable, as were many of my friends.

My post-work 60s and on have been spent energetically and pleasurably, filled by friends, meals out, stimulated by overseas travel and the arts, by attending concerts, opera, theatre and galleries, and by volunteer work, membership of and support for relevant organisations, reading widely and short courses from time to time. I have broadly expected a similar life for the rest of my 70s and beyond.

I have been married and partnered several times but have lived contentedly alone, without any close family nearby, for the last 20 or more years. A couple of years ago I sold my house and moved into a comfortable, well-positioned apartment, inner-city, within a short walk of good public transport, services, local shops and cafes. I expect to live here independently until I die (unless unlucky enough to develop dementia).

Until the present era (the great disruption of the pandemic) I thought there were quite a few years left of a similar life, perhaps slowing down a little at a managed pace, perhaps obtaining support services at home if and when needed. There are many people like me, who have been fortunate enough to have had the best of the post-World War period in Australia. We are active and independent, well-educated with wide interests, healthy enough and comfortably-off enough to support ourselves without being a burden on anyone — the fortunate baby boomers easily sneered at by younger people.

But while there is, rightly, pity for the very old and those adversely affected by the coronavirus, there is little awareness apparent of those of us in our last active years. The years we lose now can never be replaced, once gone they are lost as we succumb inevitably to old age. I recognise a grief in others like me for what we losing now and can never replace and I would like our voices to be heard.

Bill Wallace writes: I am 77 years old and in reasonably good health. When COVID-19 came along I had some concerns.

Concerns for myself but mainly for my peers who had underlying health issues, and the effect it would have on the broader community. So yes, I went into lockdown without any qualms about doing it. Seeing and hearing of the experience in China and Italy certainly made you appreciate the need for action at an individual and wider community level.

Generally I think the state premiers have handled the situation well. There have been problems and errors but they seemed to have taken whatever action was necessary to overcome the issues.

The federal response has been patchy. Some aspects have been good – online national cabinet probably stands out to me. Otherwise I have the impression that despite knowing that it was coming, there was no preparation and consequently they have been playing catch up and at the same time indulging in wishful thinking. I still do not feel they have grasped the magnitude of the task ahead as well as the opportunities it can present.

So now I am concerned about the future. What sort of lives are my grandchildren and their children going to have? Especially since actions by the federal government are likely to have such a great influence.

One good thing from this pandemic is the indication that we are a community that will take action for the community’s sake. It is not all about just the individual. Which is quite a contrast to the behaviour exhibited by some of our politicians and business people.

Ivor Undara (73) writes: I and my cohort — some of us still working, most all volunteering in some community way — are all seemingly content.

Sure the stock market is volatile, governments make mistakes and spend our tax dollars questionably plus we can’t travel.

Really! That’s all we can conjure up on the negative.

The ABC is still there, just.

We have saved for our rainy days, live modestly, plan for the future and enjoy our lives today.

We’ve seen plenty and there will be more.

I’d love to see climate change being taken seriously and the USA becoming sensible world leaders.

Crikey is calling for readers in their 70s and beyond to share their first-hand experiences of the pandemic. To contribute, write to us at [email protected] with “Missing Voices” in the subject line.

Peter Fray

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