Making a difference over 60

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by Georgina Senes

Some of the most interesting and inspiring women I know are over 60.

My own mother single handedly raised five children whilst working full-time and never had time to do anything for herself during her 30s and 40s. She just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last year, at the ripe young age of 64. Her mother, my grandmother, who will be 97 this August and who has always had a desire to travel the world, has just booked herself a ticket to France. These are two women who have grown stronger, more independent, increasingly courageous and feistier with age.

And they are not alone. There is plethora of women throughout history and today, who have, and are continuing to inspire us with their ideas, inventions, achievements and political feats – and they are all over 60!

Let’s have a look at a few:

Marjory Stoneman Douglas
A well respected American journalist, author and women’s suffrage advocate, Douglas became best known at the age of 79 when she took up the fight to protect Florida’s Everglades. For the next 29 years of her life she was a fearless crusader for the natural preservation and restoration of South Florida and was widely referred to as the “Grande Dame of the Everglades”. When she died at the age of 108, working right up until nearly her death for Everglades Restoration, an obituary in The Independent in London stated, “In the history of the American Environmental movement, there have been few more remarkable figures than Marjory Stoneman Douglas.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
This incredible woman was of only the second female Justice in United States history, when she was nominated at the age of 60 in 1993. She continues at the age of 85 to serve on the Supreme Court and to be highly influential on key decisions regarding the rights of women. She has worked tirelessly against gender discrimination and despite her advanced age and recent health scares is no way ready to retire.

Anna Mary Robertson Moses
Known by her nickname Grandma Moses, this outstanding American folk artist only began painting at the age of 78. Her works are displayed in many museum collections and have been marketed on greeting cards and other merchandise all over the world. Her piece, Sugaring Off, was sold for US $1.2 million in 2006. This incredible woman is often heralded as a great example of how an individual can successfully begin a career at an advanced age.

Olga Kotelko
This remarkable runner’s real athletic career only began after her retirement from a 30-year teaching career. Having played baseball in her youth, she took up slow-paced softball, then track and field in her 70s, eventually earning the title of oldest female jumper in history. She held over 30 world records and won over 750 gold medals – all achieved through her 70s, 80s and 90s with many considering her to be “one of the world’s greatest athletes!”

Kathryn Joosten
Kathryn was a nurse and then a stay-at-home mum who decided after the collapse of her marriage when she was in her 50s to pursue her lifelong dream of being an actress. Cracking into the entertainment world is a tough gig at any age, but this is a remarkable achievement for a woman of a more mature age. Since she entered the industry she found both fame and success in her 60s and appeared in a wide range of TV shows, such as, Family Matters, My Name is Earl and Desperate Housewives. She also won two Emmy’s and was a wonderful example of how age should never be a barrier to pursuing your dreams.

If you look at history, and the achievements that these women have made later in life, you may well find that your 60s and beyond could be the most rewarding and successful time of your life.

These women, like my own mother and grandmother, show us that it’s never too late or that you’re never too “old” to explore something new, change your career, take up a mission, try a new challenge or most importantly do something fulfilling and fabulous with your life!