Dear Show & Share
I am writing to you because I am 65 years old and I am so tired of people looking at me as that old lady…that senior…that woman who is over the hill. Can’t we figure out a way to change the view of ourselves and younger people? Why do we have to label by age? What can we do? I’ve got so much to show and share for my years!
Dear Show & Share,
It’s long overdue for those of us who are older to disrupt aging! What does that mean? A whole lot of things. Let’s start with ourselves which is often overlooked. We as older persons also perpetuate a view of aging which does not always bode well. For us. Think about how often we say, “I’m only 49!” when we are really 59 or 66? Until we start to change that up, we can’t expect younger people to see us any differently. Until we stop participating in having or attending Over the Hill parties and purchasing ageist greeting cards, we are going to continue to face ageism.
As long as we support the concept of Senior Centers and children only playgrounds (even if not stated), we will be fighting ageism. Don’t we like to play as we grow older? Aren’t there evidence-based studies showing that the more we play and the more we learn and the more we eat well and the more we move that we can look forward to a longer life? A healthier one at that!!! Let’s think about Community Centers for Active Living where people of all ages go to partake in whatever interests them. Sometimes, we may want to be with our peers by age and sometimes we may prefer to have conversations with significantly younger people. The most important is to have activities for all ages. Younger and older people have so much to share and to teach one another.
Let’s start with our friends and family. Let’s bring up this subject of ageism and talk about how we perpetuate it in our own circles. I did so and we caught ourselves in so many instances making what we thought were benign comments and then realized that there are powerful messages in just a few words. Words matter. How we talk about ourselves and others of any race, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, faith, etc is critical to being “in community.” If we each start in our inner circles and work our way out, we will have changed the mindset of so many people. We need this way of genuinely believing in the power of aging to “go viral.”
If you want to do something about your experience, do something about it. While some people may think that ageism is just too big to change, I say “Oh no it isn’t. Any change is good change.” You are more powerful than you may think. Start a movement of whatever size to wake people up about ageism. Talk with younger people. Live your genuine self and let others see you. You can dress the way you want. You know why? Because you can!
Once we really believe that we as older persons have a lot of wisdom and life experience to share AND we recognize and put out a message that we believe that younger people have great value in their thinking and their perspective, then we are on our way. Intergenerational living is the way to go! Stop anti-aging! Aging is of value!