More than five million Australians are predicted to be aged over 65 by 2026.
With International Day of Older Persons to be held on Friday, it’s a fitting time to shine a light on and celebrate the many ageing Australians who, despite their age, continue to live their life to the fullest, proving that ‘you’re only as old as you feel’.
Brisbane man, Athol Alcorn, is certainly one of those Australians.
After taking care of his wife, Estelle, before her passing, 87-year-old Athol soon acquired the assistance of in-home care for himself and reached out to local provider, Home Instead.
Despite his advanced age and being legally blind, Athol continued to push the boundaries and search for new adventures and activities that would challenge him.
Athol’s CAREGiver, Beverley, would visit every week. The pair would garden together, write poetry, do groceries together and cook and clean.
One afternoon, Athol announced to Beverley that he was going to walk Kokoda. Hesitant at first, Beverley thought she could gently persuade Athol out of the idea. Though legally blind – he has 10% peripheral vision in his left eye – Athol was determined to make his dream a reality.
“Every week Athol would share more of his plans and ask me to google the details,” says Beverley.
“After enquiring with an adventure company, they provided Athol a long list of requirements. In preparation I helped him fill in his exercise diary each week and after almost two years of training, Athol was ready to embark on his hard-earned adventure.
“However, four weeks before departure, Athol received a devastating call from the adventure company explaining that it was too big a risk to take him and therefore he would not be able to carry out his goal of hiking the Kokoda Trail.”
“I was absolutely shattered,” recalls Athol.
“Everything I had trained for had gone down the drain, or so I thought.”
“Beverley immediately took out her phone and we started googling. Within a week I met Brian and Mal at Mount Coottha. I trained hard with them and on 16th September 2019 I flew to Port Moresby with the team and completed the Kokoda Trail.”
Upon his return, Athol wrote about his adventure in a poem titled ‘Kokoda’. Athol has now completed a book of
poems which is a lifetime memoir, and he is giving these printed books away to friends and family (80 books have
He continues to write poetry as he loves to write about his life experiences in poetry form.
Now aged 89, Athol is still volunteering his time two days each week at charity home, Hummingbird House. He says his life purpose and satisfaction come from giving and connecting with others. Athol enjoys being able to remain active and each week he walks to visit friends in their homes or in care facilities.
He says he hasn’t given up looking for the next walking challenge but is currently satisfied walking to visit friends – young and old.