How to reimagine ageing with hope

Reimagining ageing

‘Reimagine ageing’. Written by Jennifer Grieve, a respected Australian aged care nurse with forty years experience in the field, it talks about the care that old people need and deserve when they slip into the residential aged care scene.

It’s a good article if you consider that some old people need nursing and other care. It’s not so good, however, when we remember that many of us live rich and fulfilling lives in our communities.

My father, Keith Stone, pictured above, in his eighties, on his third trip to Thailand within as many years, was the best role model of ageing well that I can imagine. My sister and brother and I took notice. (The photo was taken by my sister, Elizabeth Worts.

I’ve recently written about my experiences of ageism in ‘Incompetent until proven not guilty’ and ‘Crazy making – why the world seems mad’. This article suggests that most of us are getting on with our lives quite happily as we age.

How we can reimagine ageing

Even in our eighties, people dine out. Drink coffee with friends. Cook and entertain. Go to the theatre and football. Shop, enjoy trips to IKEA and Bunnings for gardening and home improvement needs. Party. Make music. Paint pictures.

We volunteer. Travel the world. Explore our own countries and cities. Blog. Write. Swim. Climb mountains and snow ski.

We also act as sounding boards for our families and friends. Encourage our grandchildren and their families. Play with younger grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

reimagining ageing- playing with gg childfen

Last year, I put my hand up for some minor stints of child-care and I loved it, glad to be needed and thought capable. We enjoyed our after-school time together.

Carer’s role

Some older people are, indeed, so frail they need to be cared for in an aged care facility or at home with assistance.

But seventy-and-eighty-year-olds often also care for those older and frailer than themselves. They do this in practical, often heroic, ways, often to the detriment of their own health and well-being.

The Australian government encourages and supports the carer role through its model of Ageing in Place and payment of a small Carers Allowance. It’s much, much less expensive for the taxpayer to keep people at home.

I’m not sure what happens when people hit their nineties. But I expect that some of them keep on doing what they’ve always done, with maybe a little nap after lunch to keep them going until bedtime.

Why we need to reimagine ageing

Several reasons why we need to reimagine ageing come to mind.

  • The lucky ones among us will age, even become old or perhaps old-old (over eighty in Australia). It’s never too early to imagine or reimagine what we want our later years to look like. We can take steps at any age so that we age the way we want to. For example, I plan to stay active physically and mentally, and to engage socially for as long as possible. The old adage, ‘Better to wear out than rust out‘ (in the words of Theodore Roosevelt) makes sense to me.
  • Most people over fifty have encountered ageism. For women, the double whammy of ageism and sexism can be both pervasive and painful. One of my early memories of gendered ageism occurred when I was in my mid-forties in a psychodrama training group. I made a casual remark about wearing shorts on a plane on the way home from a holiday in the North-West. A young fellow in the group expressed his disgust in no uncertain terms about someone so old behaving so badly. Reimagining our own ageing helps to change our behaviour and ward off ageism as we experience it.
  • If we reimagine ageing for ourselves, as well as provide positive models for ageing, we can help to combat ageism for everyone. We can help pave the way for those who come after us to live even richer lives than we ourselves may have experienced.

Visualise the future you want

There are many good articles about how we can visualise our future. One of my favourites is from Forbes in an article ‘New to visualisation? Here are five steps to get you started’.

I’ve summarised the steps as follows:

  • Decide what you want
  • Describe your vision in detail
  • Start visualising what you want and enjoy the emotions you feel
  • Take small daily actions towards your goal
  • Have grit and perservere

My personal journey

I continually reimagine my ageing journey and look for models of the sort of old age I want. I wrote about that journey here.

Another way I think about positive ageing is through my blog posts. Having a hobby like this, as a passion or even as an interest, keeps me thinking and hopeful for the future.

Recently, I’ve been adjusting to living alone. In the process of planning my life, I revisited a journal I wrote twenty years ago. I discovered that my hopes for the future are not very different from what I hoped for then, before I married for the second time.

Read fun articles on ageing

Helen Garner, one of my favourite writers of all time, writes among many other things, acerbic articles on ageism, ageing and all things related. Her articles are down to earth and often very funny. Here are a few links.

The insults of age: in which Helen Garner refuses to age gracefully.

I may be an old woman but I’m not done for yet.

Is a woman my aged allowed to be happy when the world is going to hell in a handbasket?

Happy reading!


This article has been adapted from the draft of one of my old blogs, sadly lost last year through a series of incidents and accidents.

I’d love to hear what you think about ageism, ageing and reimagining ageing. Let me know in a comment below. If you’d like to receive notification about new posts, please fill in the form at the bottom of this page.

Photo of maureen helen


  1. Thank you Maureen for sharing this very important topic. I so like reading & be informed on aging in any form throughout life.
    Working in agedcare for many years I too have numerous issues & frustrations particularly in the western world in their lack of understanding empathy caring of older people. Yet in other cultures older people are respected revered & cared for incredibly well & with dignity. The western world could learn from Asian Polynesian & Europeans how older people are treated.

    1. Hi, Nena and thank you for your spot-on comment. I think ageism is very much a problem of the Western World and we could and should learn from other cultures which treat older people with dignity. I know that your family and mine treat us with great respect, and we are among the blessed.

      1. We will continue to advocate awareness respect & understanding to eliminate discrimination of aging in any society.

  2. What a very interesting article, Maureen.
    Lately, I’m becoming more aware of ageism and noting how younger people speak to me.

  3. What on earth would I do without you??
    I love the five steps you have sumarised – maybe I can start visualising a future instead of repeating ‘Oh woe is me’ too often? Etc. Etc.
    However, with you as my friend – am doing ok!!

    1. Yes, Elizabeth, it is never too late and we are never too old to visualise our future. Sometimes I’m reduced to visualising how to make next week how I want it. Much better than holding pity parties with oneself. I’m happy to discuss further!
      I’m relieved I didnd’t melt in a puddle with the hot weather, and that you also didn’t!

  4. Hi Maureen, Great article and blog. I’m only just daring think of myself as “aging”. My plan is to “do it” my way (not really sure what /how yet). You are such a great inspiration and mentor for aging, for me.
    Just read that we have an Age Discrimination Commissioner … maybe they would like to know about your experience with the legal practice that requested you have a cognitive assessment.

    1. Thank yo for your comment, Margaret. Doing it our ‘own way’ is the only way to age, as it is to do everything else. I know you will age with grace and aplomb! Having goals and aspirations always helps.

      I hadn’t thought about the Age Discrimination Commissisoner, although I’ve pursued a few other channels for complaints about discrimination of older people. I will follow that up tomorrow.

Comments are closed.