Author Archives: seniors-admin

On old age…

I quote:

‘As we age we move from the participator to the observer. Where we were once the busy decision makers who made things happen we become the onlooker who is invited to join occasions that we used to initiate, my Dad used to say to people who didn’t know him and would patronise him: I am old I am not stupid.’

I don’t like any kind of labelling where individuals are concerned. It riles me. People do not become identical, (clones of each other) simply because they share commonality. Yet too often a human being is caught—as if framed in the narrow light attributed to a group — “Jews, foreigners, Muslim, labour supporters, disabled, the young generation…” the list is endless. Any individual can become the subject of generalisation. Those who concern me at present have been given the tag of elderly citizen or old people. read more

Let’s all become Chellers

‘Seniors’ have long experienced a problem with the terminology surrounding older people. All of the existing words are either insufficiently descriptive, lacking in inclusivity or imbued with pejorative connotations. Every conversation about seniors soon turns to who we are talking about and what responses are appropriate to various segments of the senior population.

Seniors are defined in many ways according to the context – those over about 50 or so in the workplace, those above 55 for superannuation purposes, 60 for eligibility for a Seniors Card, around 65-70 for pension purposes and so on. References to Third Aged people generally ignore the existence of their Fourth Aged compatriots. Terms such as older people, the aged, mature aged, the elderly, the aged and infirm, even grandparents, all carry a strong connotation of conservative or decrepit old folks in their Fourth Age, dependent on the community, waiting for a bed ion a nursing home, or worse. Even the term ‘ageing’ is misleading because we all start ageing at birth. The great majority of ‘older people’ are vigorous, vital and active, cogent contributors to all facets of modern society, many still working in key positions or filling demanding voluntary roles, growing our economy and supporting our institutions (and our younger people): certainly not deserving of the derogatory implications in most of our ‘ageing’ nomenclature. There are problems with every descriptive term we now use: older people? A 5-year-old is older than a 4-year old. Mature people are rarely ‘ripe’ and many would not like to be referred to as staid. Baby Boomers? What name for those born on 31 December 1945 or 1 January 1965? The Third Age and Fourth Age are not defined and are transitionary at best. read more

Third Age: Don’t panic, it’s just another stage of life

When my internet goes down, stay away from me.

I become a maniac. It creates a special kind of anxiety of which I knew nothing before the days of my beloved laptops. I remember each laptop as people remember their dead pets. And my early ones, not to mention the telephone services that sustained them, were as dependable as a politician’s promise.

I’d never have managed if my computer blokes, Darryl and Rob, had not lived close and were always there for the stuttering, distressed victim of early internet mania. Some friends gave up on the internet because of these early experiences. Others became stronger for it, learning quickly that the only constant is perpetual change. I just got better laptops and worse internet anxiety. That is the difference between young and old internet users. The young take the internet for granted. The old see it as a miracle and fear its loss. read more

Wanted: A Wonderful Word For Us

I am searching for a word. No dementia jokes please. A word: glamorous, rich, evocative, that we can appropriate to give old age a better tint. Just as Gays did, and forever improved the image and the language. We need something to distinguish us, for example, as the last generation that experienced life in the home without computers, while being the generation that helped the invention to reach its present sophisticated state.

The man who invented the mouse, Douglas Engelbart, died only last year at the age of 88. I wonder if, in his later years, any patronising young git asked him if he knew what a mouse was. read more

Old age

I can’t die now: I have enough coat hangers for the first time in my life.

This seems a powerful reason for ploughing on further into my 70s. You are sensing that deep down I am a frivolous woman. It is a reaction to all the people taking up laptops and telling people how to be old. I just can’t take it. When I started this column in 2008 no one had a word to say for the old. Now the air is thick with pontifications and I really hate it. My only mantra is: don’t be told how to be old.

Listen up. I am the first to say that old people should have jobs if they want them (as I did in my last column). I am the last to say it should be compulsory. read more

Ageing is not a linear process

Ageing is a process – not always kind, but utterly inevitable. It starts before we are even born and continues until death: some say for a short period longer in fact. We are born, we age, many of us suffer some of the maladies associated with ageing, but unlike taxes, we don’t quite go on forever. The process is inexorably linear and the only way any of us (and then only parts of us) can get any younger is by accepting an organ transplant: not an objective many of us are happy to pursue.

The impacts of ageing, on the other hand, are not necessarily as inevitable. Most of us get a few twinges, our hair changes colour, some even falls out, we tend to put on weight and a few creases might appear on our faces – but these are merely physical evidences of the maturity of our bodies. For some of us, maturity is anathema – indeed, some revel in the ‘privilege’ of acting immaturely, taking advantage of advancing years to indulge in some of the secret aspirations their position in the workplace or society more generally prevented them from exploring. More strength to them! read more

Walking the walk

She mulls and wonders, ‘how will I continue walk this foreign, uneven path, alone’.

Let’s us call her Ursula Berg, it is her nom de plume. She can hide behind it and rave and cry, lie on the floor like a two year old calling for attention with a temper tantrum. Will she shout while thrashing legs and arms and weep, ‘Nobody understands?’

Let me reassure all of you—there isn’t any need for you to come forward and whisper ‘Shush’, for she will neither scream nor kick her heels on the ground. read more

The longevity revolution & ageism

“Ageism differs in that it is not directed at a minority group; it impacts on men and women of every race. But the predominant images of old age are out of keeping with the evidence.” Patricia Edgar

With the longevity revolution we are entering a new and unprecedented stage of our history. With advances in medicine and public health, most of the world’s people have gained 30 additional years of life in the 21st century. People now expect longer and healthier lives.

Yet despite this immense demographic change we continue to have obsolete attitudes about growing older. The social construct of old age and how older people are viewed should now be updated and revised. read more

The beauty of age

laughing coupleWorking in marketing and communications in the not-for-profit sector, I have am always considerate of how people are portrayed in both words and images. How we represent people to the rest of the community can have a really big impact on how that particular group of people, whether it is people experiencing homelessness, people with disabilities, people of different ethnicities or older people, are perceived by the general community. That perception in turn drives how those people are treated in society. read more

Ageism & dementia-ism: a fearsome duo!

My new word is “dementia-ism”. It often goes hand in hand with ageism (already rife in our society) and when combined, they can have disastrous consequences for an older person.

As an elder abuse advocate, I have seen first hand the all too tragic results of this combination. Sometimes, it’s the patronising way a worker communicates with an older person, sometimes its blatant discrimination by agencies and institutions, and sometimes its much, much worse……

Let me tell you about Arthur (or “dad” as we shall also call him)……. read more