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.
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.
- 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.