Why ageing needs to matter 67



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You don’t have to tell us at Starts at 60 why ageing matters. For over two years now, we have gone against the grain in the online world and created a site and community for over 60s. And, despite our successes, we are still met with confusion when we announce ourselves to others.

I’m often asked what I do for a job and when I say that I work for an over 60s website, I am met with confusion, even from over 50s and 60s. They say, “What do you mean?”, “Over 60s aren’t online!”, “Do you visit nursing homes?”. How wrong they are. But that isn’t even the beginning of the misconceptions about the older generation in society. It’s terrible to think that even people in their 50s consider baby boomers (they often are one) to be old and withering. Pair that with greater society’s view of ageing and we have a real problem.

Recently, the White House Conference on Ageing was held in Washington DC and Barack Obama gave an awesome opening address about ageing.

After the fact, a number of writers have come out in support of the conference, but wondering what will happen now – there won’t be another for 10 years.

Huffington Post writer Ann Brenoff wrote a very interesting piece about how #agingmatters should be an important hashtag. She said, “Isn’t it about time we reimagined what being old is? We can start with who we call “elderly,” and maybe we could stop assuming that every 66-year-old is going to retire the very moment they reached full retirement age”.

To that we say hear, hear. We just have to laugh when PR companies send us funeral insurance pieces or other topics that are much more in line with people in their 80s or 90s. Even then, many people are living well beyond 80.

Brenoff also made a great point when she said that the WHCOA did not address one of the single biggest issues facing over 60s: the absurd, outdate cultural perception that 60 is very old, and you’re written off if you dare breathe past your 60th birthday.

Just working for and seeing Starts at 60 online has made me change my own perceptions of what ageing could be. For years I felt like I put all “senior citizens” (I shudder to use the term now!) in a box and would unfairly dismiss them. But then I changed my mind. You only have to speak to one over 60 in this community to realise just how lively and vibrant they are. My stepmother said to me years ago that she always feels 21 in her mind and that one day when I’m in my 60s, I won’t feel any different to what I did back then. And perhaps that’s the best way of describing what it’s like to be an over 60. You feel like you always have, but you feel constantly disappointed that society doesn’t see you.

As you get deeper into society, you see how much more scary the number 60 is to just about everyone. Employers especially are terrified of employing someone approaching retirement age, and I believe it stems from a lack of knowledge that over 60s aren’t frail biddies.

But how do we do this? We need our children and their children to reimagine us. Tell them loud and clear that you’re 60 and are no different to them. Break the stereotypes down from a young age and never let your grandchild refer to you or anyone as an old or elderly person, pensioner or senior citizen. Put over 60s in more movies and not just the men!

As Brenoff said, she’s still waiting for a single movie or TV show to accurately portray what her life is like. And isn’t that so true. When was the last time there was even a movie or TV show close to home that was relatable for the everyday over 60?



So we want to know today: What’s one thing you think society gets wrong about over 60s? What should be done to break the stereotypes?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Firstly, I think you should look at the way the government sees us. 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 at 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 forty year old. It does not say put a 60 year old in the ‘too hard’ basket. I have chronic bronchitis. I didn’t get that once I turned 60. We are looked upon as though once you hit that number you get ill or chronic conditions and with those come uselessness. I have a son who is 24. I can outdo him any day, even with bronchitis, in the work stakes. So many times when I was working full time (last year), the young ones told me they could never work 40 hours a week. It would be too hard. When the government stops acting like we are just money grabbers after 60, it will be a start. Then we have to educate our kids and grandkids to stop treating us as though we need to be put in a corner and checked on once in awhile. Then we have to enforce laws of discrimination in the workforce. Believe me Fair Work or whatever it is called today will tell ninety five percent of people it is too hard to prove. Then we need to look at everyone as an individual. There will be people at sixty who can’t do thongs, but there will be people at twenty who can’t either. From a recent experience, I realised that well over half the population treat you as though you can’t think for yourself at sixty. Finally we need to stop acting “old”. I know sometimes it seems easier, especially when you have to deal with the government but that lets them get away with it. They assume once you get to over sixty, you don’ t need a job, you don’t need to be treated with dignity and respect and you need less to live on than someone younger. Well I pay the same price for a loaf of bread as my 24 year old. I am 62 and sometimes I am unwell, but so is the young bloke who lives next door. It is not age. Australia should be ashamed of themselves. We talk about being racist. Time to talk about being prejudiced against someone older than sixty!!

    17 REPLY
    • well said and yes I have had a shocking month with bronchitis, it progressed into pneumonia and no Fran to ask about it, and I am still sick !! You are right about everything

    • Fran missed her calling in life..but it is not to late, you would have made an intelligent and honest Politician

    • You should send this as a letter to your local pollies- it really is good and says what a lot of us think. Maybe

    • It’s fine by me. I think we as the people of the SAS site should do it. We would have to find out from Rebecca how to go about it, but I am personally sick of this and as for my recent stint in hospital, it certainly has proved a lot of things to me. It’s time they learned that “we are one,but we are many” and we will NOT be ignored!

    • Hi Fran Spears! It’s Emma, could you possibly write an article using what you’ve said here? Love it!

    • Well put Fran..what a great advocate you are, & would be for the future of all over 60’s. Age is only a number as far as I am concerned. Having a number of chronic conditions, I often feel that I am treated as a child, & this is quite hurtful to say the least, but I always speak my mind when this occurs. As baby boomers, we all need to stand up & be heard..

    • WHAT A RELIEF !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fran Spears to have you back on our SAS site. Hope you have recovered well and as you can see you speak for all.Totally agree with you and I am sick of being treated like a bloody idiot at 62. So how do you get treated when you are 82?

    • Oh Fran we need to get you to be a spokesperson for us to these dumb politicians what you have said is so right . Would love to read a book written by you about this subject . You go girl .

    • Fran , you are so right & very articulate , yes Australians should ( that is we !) should be ashamed of the way Seniors are treated & yes I agree it is racism & I didn’t realize that ! until you said it , duh !! I am 75 yrs young, disabled use a walker & when I go out it is as if I am invisible , people (usually on mobile phones ) walk in front of me , across me etc, I feel like either screaming or pushing the walker at them , of course because of my up bringing I don’t do either !!

  2. I am61 and think I am the only one at work that never complains of vbeing tired. My work mates are in their 20’s.

    2 REPLY
    • Sylvia, the young ones will have to make it. They won’t be able to retire until they are 70 – if they are lucky and the retirement age doesn’t get stretched out even further.

    • A lot of the young ones keep different hours to us and that is why they come to work tired. I worked with quite a few young ones who used to burn the candle at both ends.

  3. Recently I was in hospital and after a while I looked around and thought “there are a lot more old people in this town getting sick than young ones”. It took me a while to realise I had been put on the “old people’s” floor – I am 68 and certainly don’t feel old. It was a bit of a wake up!

  4. I am about to turn 80, and all the things you talk about apply to me. I don’t think age should be a predeterminer for how we are seen or that it should be perceived that our basic needs are different to those of others including the Over60’s as paragraph 6 of this article suggests. My dreams hopes and ambitions, are no different! I am restricted somewhat by mobility issues ( I can’t run and jump any more ) but hope to get back to traveling and dancing once I recover from knee surgery !! I too am SO AGAINST all the funeral ads etc that we are bombarded with on TV during the daytime sessions. None of us need to be blasted continually, with the message that we mightn’t be around all that much longer. There are many people who are socially isolated who, when bombarded with these suggestions all the time, might just give upon life! Meantime I am trying to think forward, to where will I travel too next, the North Pole, Machu Pichu, Yucatan Peninsula, Cruise the Northwest Passage, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Cross the Nullabor, go to the Kimberlies, take the Ghan to Darwin and visit Kakadu ,the list goes on and on!! Ok …. Maybe they are dreams, but I will do my best to turn some of them into reality if I can. Just don’t put me into the too hard basket, and don’t tread on my dreams!!!!!

    3 REPLY
  5. I don’t care how old I get as long as I am still able to get out of bed myself & know my own name. The rest is adjustable.

    3 REPLY
    • Yes agree Chris I take every day as a bonus and thank my lucky stars I am still able to get around and do things after the passing of my Husband in a fortnight and we didn’t see that coming, I just do everything I want to do travel go out for coffee lunches etc as you just don’t know what’s around that corner.

    • Yes I agree Chris. My husband has passed away and I continued to work, kept me busy, now I work 3 days a week. When asked why I still work my reasons are :1. I enjoy work, 2 the money pays for my holidays Australia and Overseas, two of my children live interstate 3. travelling while I can and it all helps keep me active and feeling young. Im also doing as my husband said, make the most of the time I have left. We were saving for retirement, He never reached it. I dont feel my age and Ive been told I dont act my age – I think they meant Old.,

    • It’s ok to grow old, just not good to grow up. Sandra & Joan you both should be held up as shining examples of how to live a life. Bon Chance.

  6. I worked as a Nurse until l was 67.My young colleagues used to say..’your much older than my Mum..but l can’t see her doing /coping with the work you do’
    Now retired l’m at the beach/headlands every day. Watching dolphins & whales..collecting things with my grandchildren..glorious!
    I’m happy. .

    1 REPLY
    • SO did I, Gillian: retired at 69 after a lifetime of nursing. I had one young madam tell me I’d passed my ‘use by’ date but the others and especially the patients appreciated my skills and experience.

  7. Bring OLD is relative to your daily life. What you can do, can’t do, want to do, won’t do, need to do, physical or mental abilities. Once you’ve sorted that, it’s all subjective

  8. The Govt has led the way in demonising those over sixty. In fact I don’t remember a time of such vitriol, such disrespect. A good percentage of the age group had parents who served in Wars. And a good percentage of the demonised will in fact leave inheritance levels unprecedented in this country. They have also continued to contribute a huge amount of time and loving childcare facilities to their grandchildren, which enables the parents to work to maintain a Mortgage. For the over sixties to vote conservatively is to vote directly against their best interests.

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