Older Mind Matters

Time to fight back against ageism

I recently read a piece written by Julian Hughes on the BBC website which argues we should see older adults as a bonus. This reminded me of a study commissioned by the WRVS (drawn to my attention by another colleague – thanks Claire) which showed that over 65s made a net contribution of £40 billion to UK economy in 2010. You can download the Gold Age Pensioners reports here. The study looked at the contributions made by older people to the national economy through tax revenues plus a range of other mechanisms including:

  • spending power
  • volunteering
  • childcare
  • providing social care as carers
  • support to families, neighbours and communities
  • participation in civic life and the democratic process

So why are we so negative about later life?

The BUPA Health Pulse 2010 International Healthcare Survey found the most feared concomitants of ageing to be loss of independence and loss of memory.  The same report noted that people over the age of 65 don’t consider themselves to be ‘old’, and Stone et al (2010) found that well being follows a U shaped curve, decreasing into midlife and then increasing again into later life.

Earlier in life it appears that we fear the changes and losses of growing older but as we get older we still manage to enjoy life and contribute to society in a variety of ways. It’s time to fight back against ageism!


NOTE: you might also like to see page 3 of the Old Age Psychiatrist 2005 issue 38 (one –ism too many) and to read the final draft of a piece I wrote for the NIMHE Mental Health Promption Newsletter in 2006, entitled Age-inclusivity and specialism.


1 comment (Add your own)

1. DJ wrote:
Thanks once again for a stirring and informative piece. I am gratfeful for the links to wise and useful things which I didn't know. There is so much I don't know - but is is important to ration the intake to avoid flooding the leetle grey cells - too much is toxic whatever it is.
There is no doubt that older people are, on balance, at least as wonderful as less old people. The problem is I think captured in your reference which saya that people over 65 do not consider themselves to be old. Ownership of the concept or status or its obverse - denial that this is me - is the root problem and a tricky root to get rid of.

Our daughters were recently approached to take interest in and rescue the Old Girls society of their very wonderful school. We are all grateful to the school, applaud all it has done and is doing and see enormous value in bonds with freinds we have known during those school years. In addition it is a guarentee of like-spiritedness to learn that a new acquaintence is a product of (or at least spent formative years within) this same alma mater. The Old Girls Society has, hoever, become synonymous with ladies in their seventies or beyond and they have begun to devote energies to other interests. In stimulating possible new growth in an association of former pupils +/- families and friends we shall be well advised to avoid the adjective 'old' unless we can muster an affection for quirky self-deprecation which is an admirable but rare commodity.
The old are alwys some one else - someone who needs me to help them, to have things done to them. My gradfather in his 90s was happy but wished to avoid becoming old. My aunt, now in her mid-nineties continued to look afetr old people in the street until her early nineties. She grumbles now a others begin to do things for her and tell her she should not do things which are risky. I shall be 67 later this year, all-being-well. Even I struggle to avoid smug smiles if (rarely) people suggest in all honesty that I might be in my fifties, and sulk inwardly (I hope) when people guess my age accurately or worse!
Owning oldness does not come easily - But it would be a good thing to achieve

Mon, May 9, 2011 @ 8:21 AM

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