The good news for older people is that – as a demographic – we are leading longer and healthier lives. The bad news, according to Professor Lee-Fay Low, professor of ageing and health at the University of Sydney, is that our lives continue to be seen in ageist ways, showing “a simple arc where you grow up, get a job, get a partner, have children, grow old and die”.
What we need instead, she says, are more stories about “growing old and finding new loves, starting new jobs and having more adventures”.
What she’d be glad to see, therefore, is a recent New Daily article describing the lively lives being lived by many people with whom we eighty-somethings have grown up, and old: Sir Paul McCartney as the singing and dancing elixir of life; Harrison Ford, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro showing no intention to retire; and the Rolling Stones, who’ve just released their “first album of material in 18 years”.
What I’m not glad about is that the article is headed: “Why 80 has become the new 60”.
Why does it still seem a good idea to cast the positives of old age as being in some way more youthful? I, for one, definitely do not see my 81 years as being 61. There is no way that I’m going to airbrush an eventful 20 years of experiences and changes out of my life.
Let me enumerate just some of the challenges and highlights that would have to go.
Caring for my mother through her increasing dementia, and then the sadness of losing her; and, during that period, the expanding joy in my heart as six delightful grandchildren entered our lives, the first now an adventurous young man, the youngest a caring six-year-old. Winding up my staff of one (me) in the research and development consultancy that I ran for several years, then starting on a new venture that ended up taking me 13 years from go to publishing of my first book at 80 – on a fresh look at ageing, as it happens. Overcoming my stark terror of public speaking by joining a great Toastmasters group; and now, enjoying being a very vocal pro-ageing and anti-ageism advocate.
And through it all, needless to say, this wonderful time machine that I dwell in, my body, has certainly been showing some signs of wear and tear. Luckily, we’re living in an era of great medical advances. So my slightly wonky heart is now ticking merrily away with the help of a pacemaker which is – amazingly – being monitored back at a clinic. My new lens, to deal with a cataract that formed in my left eye, has given me the 20/20 vision that has replaced the myopia I’d had since the age of eight. My chronic bad back has miraculously stopped hurting, with some effective core-building exercises given to me by an excellent physiotherapist.
https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/eighty-is-not-the-new-60-we-re-just-getting-better-at-being-80-20231119-p5el1m.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national Eighty is not the new 60