Time to Ditch the Outmoded Language Around Ageing.

 

WHY AM I WRITING THIS? Because globally, the 60-and-over population is growing faster than all younger age groups. We’re shaping up to be the single most important trend hitting the market.

Those of us in our 60’s are not “soon-to-be retirees.” We’re more like startups. No generation before us has ever experienced this stage of life in precisely this way i.e. lived as long, been as active, had as much money or gone through as many reinventions.

  • Just as my mom, at 60, was eons “younger” than my grandmother at that age, I know I am much younger (mentally and physically) than my mother was at this stage of her life.
  • The differences between then and now are numerous. From slight aesthetic differences e.g. no doilies in my house to major lifestyle and career choices e.g. I’m single, no kids, an entrepreneur, all ideas my mom found terrifying both for herself and for me.
  • People in their 50s and 60s are leading vastly more interesting and unconventional lives than we see portrayed in the media. It’s shocking to me that advertisers and marketers can get away with getting it so wrong!

So with this as a backdrop, I was thrilled to discover yet another kindred spirit in my pushback to outmoded theories – and disparaging language – related to being older.

Jonathan Collie, Founder Age of No Retirement joins two other favorites of mine in this nascent movement to modernize and rebrand ageing:

David Harry Stewart, Founding Partner AGEIST

  • David is one of the world’s leading experts in the new ways we are all ageing. Also, a brand builder, award-winning photographer, keynote speaker

Matthias Hollwich, Architect, Designer and “New Aging” Guru

  • I met Matthias at a PSFK event two years ago.
  • His rethink of ageing is brilliant. He introduced me to the concept of approaching ageing with a start up mindset.
  • His thesis is to pioneer this new territory with innovation and creativity.

I aim to be part of this initiative to reframe the ageing movement.

Read on below for more.

 

TWO IMPORTANT ISSUES RELATED TO AGEING:

1. Age-exclusion from jobs

  •  When people hear the word 50, or the term ‘older’, in their mind’s eye they conjure up the stereotypical image of an old person; crumbly health, tech-illiterate, in need of retraining and ‘past it’.    (Jonathan Collie, Age of No Retirement)

Ageism in the workplace is a problem but it does not impact everybody in the same way.

  • Many of us who are entrepreneurs and small business owners, have been able to successfully extend our work lives through consulting, taking advisory roles for startups and serving on boards.
  • But because ageism is such a hot topic and having had a youth market/research company, I feel somewhat qualified to say age sometimes can be a factor in whether the job gets done properly.
  • For example, a big part of my job back in the day was going to music festivals, uncovering new music genres and deciphering street style. My thoughts on this today are that while some people can clearly still do this no matter their age, for me, music has taken a backseat.
  • I still attend numerous music festivals (e.g. Life Is Beautiful) in order to check out street art, sponsorships, food and beverage trends. But music is not a passion of mine. Therefore, I would not expect a job offer where music knowledge is a requirement. And if I did apply for such a job and was turned down, I would not call it ageism.

 

2. The language around age. This totally drives me nuts!!

It’s the language issue that first drew me to David Harry Stewart’s AGEIST when he said:

  • From day 1 it was apparent that we needed a new language and visual direction for our mission and audience. Unlike other life stages, there really isn’t anything out there in the way of templates or substantial role models.

Jonathan Collie is on the same wavelength, when he says:

  •  We need to reclaim normal language and dispense with euphemisms such as ‘golden age’ and ‘silver surfers’. It’s just ‘people surfing the net and starting businesses and working’. People do things at all ages, and we need to stop sensationalizing the fact that people might carry on working or start a business in their 60s.

 

BOTTOM LINE:

IT STARTS WITH LANGUAGE.

  • Language is powerful which is why we need to rebrand this next stage of life.
  • If you’re not working a regular 9-5 gig or you’re working on something that isn’t a strictly money-making endeavor, the message to others is basically that you are retired.
  • And that is  essentially saying it’s over, you’ve given up, you’re ready to be put out to pasture, you are no longer of interest to anybody (including yourself).
  • We must change this!!

 

WORLD POPULATION AGEING: PER UNITED NATIONS STUDY

Globally, population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups.
In 2017, there are an estimated 962 million people aged 60 or over in the world, comprising 13 per cent of the global population. The population aged 60 or above is growing at a rate of about 3 per cent per year.

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