Rethinking Ageing

By David Gledhill, Marketing and Communications Officer

What went wrong? Since when did ageing become something to be frowned upon – to be demonised as if it wasn’t something that will happen to us all?

Not many years ago the older generation were revered, respect was expected and delivered and as they said round our way ‘woe betides you if you don’t’

The generations that fought wars are now few and far between, but our parents and grandparents have done much to shape our futures and there may well be the rub.

Have younger generations got enough to look forward to? In an age when jobs are few and far between and the prospects of home ownership are out of grasp of the majority, then should we be surprised that our forebears are getting the blame?

Is it their fault? Should we lay the blame for all our ills at their wholly owned front doors? Is global warming really all down to them? Are house prices their responsibility? Are they taking all the jobs?

Have older people got an image problem? In a word, yes, they have.

I recently took over as marketing and communications lead for Ageing Well Torbay – a serendipitous appointment, given what I have observed as a fifty something – approaching their sixties.

I can think of many words to describe how I feel today – young (even though I am not), fit (which I am), ambitious (which I remain), enthusiastic (some would say annoyingly so) and energetic (despite various niggles).

Without blowing my own trumpet I have also learned a lot on this six decade long journey, knowledge that I have found increasingly difficult to share. I would even go as far as to say I have become all but invisible to some people.

And yet, I feel I still have a lot to give, but first I need to find a way of becoming part of the solution and not a potential problem for a society hell bent on burying me before my time.

To quote from a song that is an anthem for generations much younger than I: “I’m not dead yet”. Not even preparing for it. On the contrary.

I still love music (and I am not talking tea dance tunes). I still kayak, sail, follow rugby with a passion and go to the gym several times a week. I am a reluctant gardener and an enthusiastic wine drinker.

But despite my best efforts, my almost white and rapidly receding hair and smile lines – ok a step too far, smiling is not something I am famous for – wrinkles, give the game away.

I was not personally responsible for rising house prices. I take no credit for technological revolution that is replacing jobs at a terrifying rate and I am not to blame for so many ills that appear to be piling up at my door.

Furthermore I would be more than happy to sit down with all comers in the search for some answers. Young people are not alone in being trepidatious about the future. We all are.

Around 50% of the population of Torbay are over 50 – that is somewhere in the region of 65,000 people, the vast majority of whom have something to give in their later years. They just need the opportunity to do so.

If you are one of them, then join the revolution. Join the many who want to do something to help to help each other, to help make a difference in what is rapidly becoming a disparate and in part disillusioned society.

We can sit back and be scapegoated or we can emerge from our cloaks of invisibility to fight ageism and disrespect. We have voices but we need to use them.

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Together we can make a difference. Together we can ensure that we look after all our tomorrows, today.