Five years ago I finished my third Master’s degree, in Population Studies, at the Australian National University. I received a letter from the Chancellor congratulating me on my outstanding results, a letter which is sent to all students who achieve Distinction or High Distinction in all subjects. The difference was that I was 67 at the time. I was also encouraged to go on to do a Ph D which I am currently completing at the University of Canberra. My topic is ‘The contribution of lifestyle choices to physically and mentally healthy ageing: Successful ageing.’

My research has taken me along many paths but essentially for people to have successful and healthy ageing they need to have a purpose in life. This can be work, a substantial amount of volunteer work equivalent to paid work, caring or finding a new career or interest. It seems to be accepted that we lose brain cells as we age and if we are involved in something exciting and interesting, which has a purpose, paid or unpaid, then new connectors can be created between cells to compensate for this loss.

I have two grown up children and will have my first grandchild next month.

My thesis should be handed in before the end of March.