Ageism is really strange. Why would I now be considered stupid and incompetent because I'm over 60?
There was a time when, families stayed together and were dependent on each other. With onset of the industrial revolution, along came transport and with that the opportunity to find work further away than wherever one could walk to in a reasonable time. And as families drifted apart over time, so that the close ties between family members slowly disappeared. I notice with my own kids and grandchildren, that close contact was a thing of the past and that the immediate personal situation overrides any considerations other than the immediate family household. Not true in all cases, I know, but far more prevalent today.
Today, it's over the hill to the poorhouse for many old people. It may be an old people's home or it maybe a granny flat, but whatever, out of sight and out of mind. I came across "Older people widely demonised, ageism report finds". It included the following statement:
Negative attitudes are rife in the workplace, in health and social care and in the media, with women and people from black and minority ethnic groups facing a “double jeopardy” of discrimination, the paper by the Centre for Ageing Better revealed.
The report – titled Doddery But Dear? – reviewed all existing research on attitudes to ageing. It found that older workers are seen as having lower levels of performance, less ability to learn and being more costly than younger workers.
In health and social care, the review found that stereotypes are even more negative, with attitudes focusing on death and physical decline, and ageing seen as a process of increasing ill health.
I've offered a time-based explanation why this attitude is prevalent. I suspect it's much more than that, though.
There was a time when in most cultures, old meant wise. Why? Because here is a person who has lived longer and so has had longer to accumulate experience and learn lessons from that experience which can usefully be passed on to the younger ones. It also meant that an old person is more likely to think things through before acting, so that stopped rashness. Of course, this is all a generalisation and it's the exceptions which prove the rule.
Looking back at my life, I feel I have learnt some important things about life and living itself, which can't be learnt any other way except through experience and therefore, time. It's one of the reasons for this blog - given that most people I know are not much interested in discovering themselves, I'm writing this for those who are interested.
I do know something which younger people mostly don't know, in the sense that it doesn't figure anywhere in their daily lives, and that is that my life is finite. I'm going to die - I don't know the date and time, but I know I have lived considerably more than half of whatever length of time I'll have. Definitely over the hill.
And that makes me all the more conscious of the amazing life I've led up to now and it makes me very thankful, because I know that it's not thanks to my efforts that I'm still around - I've been too close to real death too many times. If that thankfulness and joy of life is not something worth sharing and the experiences which make me who I am today, then what is? The young without those experiences which time brings them, are dependent on those who have had the experiences. maybe they will learn that we Grufties are not just to be written off as useless and a burden, but can and often should be valued for what they have learnt.