The words “senior”, “old age”, and “over 60” have a wide range of connotations. When someone is 55 years old or more, phrases like “it’s just old age” and “at your time of life” get bandied about when someone is injured or unwell. When you are looking at purchasing products and services tailored to this group, the imagery used is often extreme, reflecting the small percentage of older adults who become frail, senile or need full-time care.
These perceptions, held by those around us and internalised into our self-image, are based on out-of-date data and yet continue to shape the decisions we make and the plans we think are possible for the future.
The latest global research from Susan Wilner Golden (in her book, Stage (not Age)) remarks “Since health is improving and cognitive rates are falling, we must eliminate the old stereotypes of how people will age…the increasing health span decreases the importance of age in the market.” Someone’s chronological age is no longer as relevant in determining what is possible or healthy for them.
Younger generations perceive older adults as trusted assets in the community, essential for their contribution of wisdom, creativity, experience, and more. Being over 55 is now being seen as a time in which you can live “the good life”.
At 65, you are now likely to have nearly as many healthy years ahead of you as you’ve worked. This longevity creates an opportunity for a variety of purposeful and active activities such as launching a new business, taking up a new career, investing in education, developing financial security and optimising health. Shifting this perception, allowing diversity into what has been seen as a homogeneous group, is important and positive and it asks us all the question: how does this change how you see yourself at an age over 55 and what you want to do with the years you have ahead?
By: Kelly and Karren Hodgkins