Over 65 and Australian society calls us old, even though people now in their fifties must work until 67 before they can receive an age pension.

Younger people often make derogatory comments about us without thinking. They show their stereotypical ideas.

My recent post about expiration dates reminded me how I’ve heard, ‘Past their use-by date,’ in relation to an older person. Such careless, derogatory speech makes me cross.

Old people face ageism everywhere. It’s time we stood up for ourselves and called it out.

Words can hurt. Even jokes carry and convey meanings that may not be meant. They can create assumptions and imply judgements that may discriminate against an individual or a whole group.

Ageism defines people by their age rather than by their personality, achievements, accomplishments, beliefs or desires. It implies that all older adults are incompetent, ailing and dependent.

Some seniors do succumb to frailty of body and mind as they age. They may need empathy, assistance, and care. But most of us over 65 don’t!

Ageism occurs on a large and small scale. Younger people put us down in ways which may be intentional or unintentional, well-meaning or not. If we don’t like it, we have the power to call this ageism and to point it out.

On the other hand, we often feel powerless over ageism imposed by the institutions in our society. Journalists, for example, frequently define older people terms related to grand-parenting or work status, even if those things have nothing to do with the topic.

The health system and other government departments, churches and society are also culprits. Advertisements and television programs imply that to be old is to be wanting.

People over 65 showing the way

Just a few of the many I know well.

  • My husband, John Fleming, had cataracts removed very recently. He’s out on the balcony as I write, starting a new painting.


  • My sister, Elizabeth Worts, with her husband, Peter, spent four months travelling with their caravan in the eastern states of Australia earlier this year.


  • Pamela Lynch hiked to the Everest Base Camp twice after she turned sixty. Then wrote a book about her experiences. You can read my review here. Since then, she’s started a new business venture and lifts 30 kilogram weights.https://maureenhelen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Pamela-Lynch-lifts-30-kilos-2.jpg
  • My friend Elizabeth Brennan still works at paid employment in her late 70s, volunteers, writes books, stories and poetry and leads a full and active social life. A Facebook friend I much admire moved to Portugal to live after she retired. The examples seem endless.



  • Eighty one next month, I swim a 1000 metres three three times a week and spend much of my time researching a new book.

If you know someone who is over 65, or you fit yourself the criteria, please let tell us in a comment (with a picture if possible) what they or you are up to these days. We need to let the world know we are not past our use-by date at any age.

19 replies on “ Some comments about people over 65 make me mad”

  1. i agree with all you say. Maureen.I qualified for retirement at 60 before the government changed the female retirement age. I loved my job and chose to carry on working until I was almost 68.

    I am fortunate to have inherited my mother’s ‘younger looking genes’ and at 71 I try to hide my age simply because when other people become aware they make me feel old. I’m not ‘old’ I’m simply older than I was!

    1. The key to working longer at paid employment is being happy in our jobs, I think, Sue. I retired when I was 65, completed a PhD and went back to work in my old agency until I was seventy. Best decisions ever.

      Lucky you to have the younger looking genes! And well done to hide your age, which is none of anyone else’s business, anyway

  2. Maureen, as always you have hit the nail on the head. Having turned 70 this year I am proud to say I attend a gym twice weekly for an hour circuit, Walk the dog regularly for 30 mins and am thinking of joining a line dancing group. I was learning to play the ukulele until a finger injury put that temporarily put on hold. And no I personally am not ready to consider retirement village life. Not life shattering achiements, but I am working on that!

    1. Line dancing, Lorraine? How amazing! But then you are a remarkable woman, so I guess why not? Please do not consider retirement village life, and keep enjoying your already busy and fulfilling life. Glad you enjoyed the blog, by the way.

    1. You have seemed amazing to me since the day I first met you, Miriam. You told me that you were caring for grandchildren who were not much more than babies. Such a generous spirit, and you continue to surprise me.

  3. My father just celebrated his 90th birthday. He takes classes at a local university, goes on regular bus trips with a church group, and drives 30 miles every weekend to his mountain cabin to spend time by himself in that beautiful setting. He is active in the church. He just renewed his driver’s license, and I could go on and on. He even asks what he can do to help me as I care for my invalid husband. People don’t believe he is 90 years old, as he neither looks nor acts 90. He’s quite amazing!

    1. Oh, Deb, he sounds amazing. I like the list of varied things he does, showing that even quite old people can be versatile, interested and interesting, as well as supportive of others. Past his use-by date? What a ridiculous suggestion! He sounds in the prime of life. Thank you for writing about him.

        1. That’s good for him, and I imagine for you and your sister, too, Deb, knowing he has one less thing to be concerned about.

  4. I love this post Maureen, and agree wholeheartedly, and will follow your lead for sure! I also can think of countless examples, starting with my own parents, my dad is 81 and there is nothing he can’t do; my mum is 77 and does the most incredibly flexible and strong stuff in her pilates class which I literally am unable to do. Age is truly just a number.

    1. I love hearing about your parents, Amanda. They are truly powerful role models and I imagine they enjoy their lives immensely. I’d be willing to bet that they are really proud of you, your spirit of adventure and your accomplishments, as well.

  5. Another wonderful blog post calling the shots, Maureen. I’m not far off 65 and people are surprised when I say so. Guess it’s got o do with keeping busy! Since leaving paid work I’ve done more things than ever and always like breaking out of any box anyone wants to put me in!
    On a different note, I am amazed that society doesn’t value wisdom that comes with age.

    1. Thank you, Susan. I am really surprised at your age. I love that you are willing to break out of the boxes. We need to keep encouraging each other (all others) to keep saying ‘Yes’ to life and challenges whatever our age.

      Other societies do value the wisdom of older people. We’ve gone wrong somewhere, and need to model ageing with passion and energy.

  6. Why do we want to hide our age? Why are we proud when people think we look younger than we are? The first way to combat ageism is to be proud of our age. We are our own worst enemies if we do otherwise. I don’t colour my hair, and went grey early. My attitude is “by my actions not my looks shall I be known”. The more we try to hide our age the more we feed into, support, ageism.

    The thing I hate most about media reporting, say, a car accident involving 65-year-olds is their being described as “elderly”. Now I admit that I am now young old age or old middle age, but elderly? That’s my 89 year old mother and 98 year old father. Elderly is when you start needing some help to manage daily life (which my mother barely does, really, except that her severe arthritis makes her appear frail. Dad is mentally on song, but health problems that would have killed others make him physically frail.)

    1. It’s an interesting question, about not wanting to appear as old as our years indicate we should be. I love your attitude to ageing. I also began to go grey early, and just let the ageing process happen, but I must say turning eighty took a bit of mental preparation!

      Your parents sound amazing. What splendid role models they must be.

      1. Thanks Maureen. Yes, I can imagine. I’m starting to mentally prepare for 70. You do start to feel the decades running out don’t you? Dare I say, that my mother didn’t really start to feel “old” until around 85 when I think some of the frailties reminded her that she wasn’t as young (and as able to rush around) as she used to be.

        My parents are great role models – you’re right.

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