In April, 2013 I have an op-ed piece published in the Vancouver Sun titled “Let’s take the tarnish off the Golden Years.” I voiced my objection to all the negativity surrounding population aging – something I have written about in a previous blog.
I mentioned a number of downbeat attitudes towards people who are living longer, claiming that we are immersed in numerous negative conceptions about getting older. Our popular culture including media, language, cartoons, TV and humour are replete with negative concepts. We are told that population aging is a crisis which threatens our very economy; the media, especially TV constantly provides images of confused older people, featuring ads for dental adhesives, incontinent products, arthritis remedies etc. Language includes terms like “greedy geezers” meaning older people who are robbing their children by their spending, thus ensuring the next generations will live in penury.
We hear of having a”seniors’ moment” whatever that is. We listen to jokes about older people who, when asked their age, hesitate and reply “Do you have to know right now?” There’s a knee-slapper for you! We look at cartoons of older people featuring wizened and confused elders who can’t remember where they live.
I term all this negativity a “culture of loss” which is ageist in its assumption that we all decline as soon as we reach age 65, and immerses all of us in the expectation of decrepitude as we age. This is not my experience as an octogenarian. I and numbers of peers are living productive and confident lives, thoroughly engaged in our communities. I want to establish a strong case for how older Canadians are contributing to a “culture of gains.”
I am looking for anecdotes about persons 75 and older who are using their new found longevity to live their lives in different ways, perhaps re-inventing themselves as workers, professionals or as family members or volunteers. The Globe and Mail had a story on June 12/13 about a Nova Scotia man at age 77 who bought a large apple farm. He had worked 30 years for his municipality, suffered all the slings and arrows life hurled at him including bankruptcy, was tired with waiting for something to happen and bought the farm, which now provides considerable employment to others. He is hoping it will make a profit in 5 years which is when he will be 82.
If you know any older person who has either re-invented themselves or established themselves differently to what they were before, or found new ways to do their previous work, please tell me. My object is to overcome the mainly negative crisis view of old age immersing us, by viewing older people as needy and takers. I want to inform the world that there are many, many 75 years and older who are “givers” in numerous productive ways and not sitting around with outstretched hands. ( if you choose to be anonymous that’s fine).