Boldies lets celebrate International Day of Older Persons
By Nigel Pritchard. Published 2020-10-01
How old is older
Like most of us Boldies I avidly read the papers and dabble with social media, and over time you start noticing that there is some form of unsaid narrative. A form of artificial natural selection going on which has been considerably exacerbated by this dreadful pandemic. If you are under 40 and die of this ghastly disease it’s a tragedy, between 40 and 50 it’s unexpected and a life cut short, between 50 and 70 that’s understandable but sad and over 70 well it’s expected and you had a good run and what an innings it was.
Well I have to say, and maybe it’s my age, any death is a life cut short. Just think about what could have been achieved, learned, enjoyed and loved. What is the world missing out on due to that person no longer being here?
Whilst we all meet the grim reaper one day, and I may be closer to saying hello than I was yesterday - aren’t we all at any age, I have no intention of doing it any time soon. In fact, I’m making it my soul purpose to put that day off for some considerable time and enjoy life to the full.
Given I am in my late 50s, I see this period in my life as merely half-time and look at the next 50 odd years as an opportunity to challenge myself and enjoy the great adventure in front of me, however long that journey is.
Life has so much to offer whether you are in your 100s, 90s, 80s or are a younger boldie. Furthermore, we ourselves have so much to offer whatever our age.
They say inspiration comes in many forms and we at TheBoldAge have had the privilege of saying hello and writing about some amazing boldies that have metaphorically, and sometimes literally, stuck up 2 fingers to those that think when you hit retirement you should slip off and don your slippers and retire from life.
For example, inspirational people like Ingeborg Rapoport who earned a PhD at the age of 102. She started her studies in Nazi Germany in 1938 but being Jewish she was unable to complete them. Nearly 80 years later she finished her thesis at the University of Hamburg. Or Ed Whitlock who ran a marathon in 3hrs 25mins, a great time for someone a quarter of his age. By the way, his fastest time was 2hrs 54mins at the age of 73. His motivation for running is not for good health or mental wellbeing, he told Running Times ‘I run to race!’.
Along with so many Boldies I get upset when I hear the refrain, I was, or we were. It’s time we as boldies learned to say I AM, and WE ARE.
As a cohort we should refuse to accept the ageist narrative that reinforces the stereotype of an over-the-hill, frail, elderly, housebound, dependant, boomer (and don’t get me started on that as a put-down). That is not to say that there aren’t serious challenges that need addressing be that housing, mental wellbeing, loneliness, or disability. Far from it, but isn’t this a societal issue impacting all ages?
The EU “silver economy”, which we prefer to think of as the “boldies economy”, is worth some trillions. And, if we were a country, we would be the third wealthiest nation on the planet and that my fellow boldies is leverage. Certainly, big enough not to be invisible.
But invisible we seem to become. Which is all very counter-intuitive when you consider that by 2038 a quarter of us will be over 65 and that today the number of pensioners, exceed those over 16. Just think about this a little more deeply and you come to realise that there are going to be fewer people of working age over the coming decades than us boldies. Little known is that today there are 4 people of working age globally for every person over 65. By 2050, the UN estimates that this will have fallen in 48 countries, the UK included, to below two. All of which will have profound implications for society, the world of work and dare I say that word, retirement.
This inescapable demographic change is going to require seismic shifts in policy, attitudes, and innovation. We need to press the societal reset button where everyone at any age is seen as equally important and useful, requiring lifelong investment.
Furthermore, continuous learning and re-skilling, flexible working practices and working for an ethical purpose are all going to be key in employers being able to attract older people back into work. People will want to live independent, healthier, fulfilling and more active lives, as well as aiming to live longer in their own homes. This provides opportunities for innovation and for companies to provide products and services that support and tap into this golden age; education, transport, housing, AI, robotics, technology wearables, food and retail, fitness, support services, healthcare, cognitive and social wellbeing, communications and media – the list is endless.
We, as Boldies, should be picking up this challenge. Did you know that the over-50s, according to the FT, account for 43 per cent of those who start their own businesses?
So how old is older? Well I am certainly going to enjoy exploring the next exciting stage of my life. Forget the over-the-hill older boomer stereotype – you’ll find me continuing on as I currently am at a pace that “the young’uns” struggle with and doing things that truly make me #AgeProud.