What everyone needs to know about being over 60, by an over 60

In a country where the population is ageing rapidly, we seem to have a problem. No one wants to acknowledge the fact. Australia’s over 65s are growing at a rate of nearly four per cent yearly, but who cares it seems.

Let’s start with the government. We are labelled as “senior”. I am happy with that if you define senior. In the dictionary it says “a person who is a specified number of years older than someone else”. It also says “of or for more experienced people”. It does not say that once you turn 60 you are now too old to do anything or your brain is addled or you can’t learn or be just as useful as a 40 year old. It does not say put someone in their 60s in the too hard basket. But still the government is like a double-sided penny. On one side they say we are old, senior citizens and as such they treat us as though we need things spelled out to us slowly and explained to us as though we are children or at least need help understanding.  On he other side of the penny, they tell us we are too young to retire, that more of us should be looking for work, and yes, we could get jobs and stop being leaners. We shouldn’t want to live off the government. Make up your mind please and guess what?  We are not too old to know when you are trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Do you want us to retire?Do you want us to work till we are 70? I think what you want is for us to fade in to the background. This is not going to happen. You, the government of this country – MY country, need to start to do your job and represent ALL of us. You need to realise that our brains are not addled and we are just as useful as any other person in this country and before long we will be the majority!

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At 62, with a chronic illness, I can still outdo most of the young people I know when it comes to work. I may not be able to do heavy physical work, but my brain is still in great shape. I can think and feel and see and do most everything a young person can. Most 60-something people I know can. While working a full time job (2014), I had several young people tell me they could never work 40 hours, that was way too much. This country was built on 40, 50 or 60 hour weeks. Have you forgotten? Guess what, it was us, the over 60s who did this.

Then we need to educate our children and our grandchildren. They need to stop hearing the phrase “over 60s” or elderly or senior citizens when referring to their parents and grandparents. They need to know that they don’t have to treat us as though we are all too old to understand or be condescending when we ask a question or put us in a corner and forget about us because we are too hard to deal with. We are not! It is a well known fact that we have mastered social media, something that the “young” thought was just for them. We also do very well going to university at an older age. We are the ones that have taught them everything, even if they don’t realise it. We are the ones they need to remember so they can pass down what they have learned. It is called life. Our children and grandchildren need to stand up to the government and fight for our rights, because one day they will be fighting the same fight for themselves. 

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We, as the fastest ageing population in this country need to tell the world we don’t automatically get ill because we are over 60. Yes, some of us do, but so do some 20, or 30 or 40 year olds. There are some that won’t be able to work and some that will be able to work only in certain jobs. But that’s the same for any age! We need to put pressure on the government to enforce the fact that you cannot refuse a person work because he or she is over 60 and you can’t use other excuses to cover it when we all know this is what’s happening. In over 90 percent of cases, Fair Work will tell you it’s too hard to prove age discrimination. I say it’s just too hard for them. Heaven help us all if we start to think everything is too hard, make the effort. We are worth it. 

Finally, we as the fastest growing ageing population in this country need to take a stand and stop letting THEM try to make you believe you are old. We need to stop acting old, even if it is easier when you are dealing with a government department. Everyone is different. THEY need to start treating us as individuals. They need to understand that without us, they would have had very little.  If by chance we need to be on some sort of assistance, then we need to be treated with respect and dignity. Not treated like we don’t deserve anything. Mr Abbott, Mr Hockey and Mr Morrison, I pay the same for a loaf of bread as you do, so why do you want me to live on such a small benefit? Am I not entitled to live as well as you? Am I not entitled to live stress free and not worry how to pay to keep warm or eat? Is it not because of me and thousands like and before me that you are living well today?

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We, the ageing population of this nation are many and growing by the day. It is time that we mattered to you and to all in this country. The people of Australia are quick to fight against racism and minorities. We are fast becoming a “majority” and shame on you Australia. Why aren’t you fighting against the prejudices shown in this country to the ageing population? We are the backbone of this country!

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