I admit it. I’m a Judy Dench fan – particularly in her recent movies of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Victoria & Abdul. My appreciation for Dench extends beyond her skill as an actor. In this interview she suggests that ageing is “hideous”, and that the ‘ageing’ word isn’t allowed in her home. What I particularly enjoy is that Dench re-frames ageing.
In her interview, Dench feels 49 and says she likes to learn something new every day. Importantly, changes in her body and ability to do things have nothing to do with her, but rather with something else. For example, if it takes her longer to get out of a chair it has nothing to do with her being old. It’s all about the chair. As my friend Eric said, “Think old and you become old“.
Unsurprisingly, Dench’s attitude towards ageing is one held by many. Invariably, older people feel much younger than their chronological age. Recently, I had the privilege of being at a dinner with a number of women ranging in age from their mid 70’s to 92 years old! It was a lively discussion and fun evening with unanimous agreement that no one felt their age (with everyone feeling 10-20 years younger). All lived independently and were still active members of their community.
Age-appropriate. What is that, and according to whom?
Author of This Chair Rocks, Ashton Applewhite suggests that it’s up to us to figure out what’s us-appropriate at any point, not necessarily what biology predicts or an ageist culture ordains. In fact, there’s no such thing as age-appropriate.
Whether fashion, leisure activities, holidays or work, it’s up to us to wear, do, be whatever is comfortable based on how we feel and what we believe is possible for ourselves. Not based on any idea that we’re “too old”.
Many younger people are disparaging about older people, but then older people aren’t generally positive about being older either! Hardly good role modelling. Yet as Applewhite says,
“Other groups that experience prejudice, like gays or people with autism, develop buffers that can reinforce group identity, and even pride, at belonging to what sociologists call an out-group.”
What are we older’s doing to ourselves?
5 questions to ask yourself.
Perhaps it’s time to turn a mirror on ourselves. Whilst not everyone uses the older age card, it’s certainly a card that’s used more often than is healthy.
Try this quiz.
If you answer yes to one or all of these questions, then perhaps it’s time to stop embracing ageing and have a change in attitude. Time to re-frame your idea of what it is to become older.
Do you say or think …
- “I don’t do that because I’m past it (i.e. too old).”
- “That’s simply what happens when you get old …”
- “Going to the doctors is just part of ageing.”
- “I’m way too old for that!”
- “My legs/eyes/body just aren’t what they used to be.” (Really? Compared to when – 18 months or 18 years old? And, who cares?)
For some final inspiration, watch this interview with 91 year old Sir David Attenborough.
Image source: Exotic Marigold Hotel – 2011