intergenerational community

Intergenerational understanding

It’s well known that baby boomers often feel invisible.

Often ignored by marketers, Baby Boomers can also struggle to get jobs as employers consider them “too old”.

The perception tends to be that turning 50 is the start of a slippery slide downhill towards physical or cognitive decline. To being old.

Reality is quite different.

Baby boomers, and beyond, are an active, engaged, experienced, interested, interesting, technologically literate, and wise group of diverse individuals. Despite greying hair, wrinkles, and a slight slowing down, our own research reveals that baby boomers generally feel at least 3 years younger, and often 10-15 years younger than their chronological age.

Recently, I had the privilege of staying with my Aunt in a retirement village. She was thrilled. And because she knows my work is focused on people over 50, and she loves catering, I was treated to a fabulous dinner party with a group of women from their mid-80’s to 92 years old! All independent, active and with a great story to tell.

In my work, I am lucky to meet and talk with a wide range of older men and women. The more people I meet, the more grateful I am to have the privilege of their company and conversation.

The challenge is encouraging organisations, marketers, advertisers, and PR agencies to recognise this valuable cohort of people. Usually, marketing departments and agencies are filled with millennials who “don’t get us”.

The key is to educate, inform, and inspire a new understanding that changes the cultural conversation about becoming older.

It’s a significant segment of Australia’s population comprised of nearly 8 million people!

Time to change

It’s time to change so that ageism and age discrimination don’t remain into the future.

Lifespans are becoming longer.  The desire to remain an active part of the workforce and the community well beyond 50 will only grow. Considering ways to shift entrenched cultural and organisational attitudes and behaviour is key. One way to achieve change is to bring generations together.

Why Intergenerational Understanding

Hollywood did it in a light-hearted way with The Intern. I love this demonstration that shows how bringing younger and older people together to gain understanding – even for a few minutes – completely changes attitudes and perceptions of what “old” is.  NBC Universal introduced a ‘Bring-your-parents-work-day‘ as a way of mixing generations for greater understanding. It enables young people to show off what they do by bringing their parents into their business environment. In a world where parents and children don’t necessarily live in the same town, an extension of this idea could involve simply bringing an older person you know with you to work for that day. And, whilst it is only a day, it does change the age ratios momentarily and provides the opportunity for increased understanding.

The potential for what could be created and the contribution that each could provide the other is vast. At a minimum, it could bring generations together. And that could be the start of a conversation that creates the ripple for change.

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Wonder Woman

I am woman: Hear me roar!

For many women turning 50 is a time of discovery. There’s a sense of freedom. Children are usually older or have left home. As a result, women have more time, feel more confident, and are often keen to reinvent their lives – particularly if they haven’t been working. It all adds up to women feeling powerful.

But what about the hot flushes I hear you say? The mood swings? The wrinkles? The grey hair? The sagging body bits? It’s true.  It happens. Responses to these natural processes varies. Some are unconcerned. Others hold onto youthful beauty – whether through the use of hair dye, botox, or plastic surgery. In the discussions I’ve had with women over 50, they are unperturbed about what other women choose to do. If one person chooses botox or plastic surgery and another doesn’t – both are considered fair choices.

I’m over 50. My work is focused on the over 50’s.  Consequently, I have a theory.

Women & menopause

My theory is that menopause and hot flushes are simply a reminder to us – women and men – that change is occurring. For women it’s the time to harness this energy. For men … a woman in her 50’s is a person to employ, date, or befriend. She’s powerful and interesting, seeking new challenges with a purpose that utilises her strengths and acknowledges her intelligence and ability.

I’ve spoken with many women over 50, and without exception, they all express a sense of confidence that they didn’t have in their younger years. Hence, they are either less concerned or unconcerned by what others think. They’re willing to be their own woman. At 50, women are less likely to be defined by stereotypical views about what they should be doing, how they should look, or how they should be. They’re adventurous, interesting, and interested.

What does this mean? What do they do?

Like so much of what happens over 50, regardless of gender, it varies. From changing careers, starting a business, working part time, or simply being more confident in their existing day-to-day lives, it’s a time of reinvention. Some of this re-creation is internal and some of it is obvious to all (such as career changes).

BUT … it’s not all a bed of roses.

Women as carers

Women over 50, whilst free of their children, often become carers for older parents. The journey can be long, emotionally challenging, and a difficult road to navigate – a path filled with tricky decisions because our parents are adults too. They’ve been independent, competent, and capable. Balancing a desire to care and love our parents whilst knowing that they are safe can become a delicate and complicated tightrope walk – a juggle between supporting not smothering, enabling not disabling, empowering not disempowering. Whilst this is a path most of us ultimately tread, it comes at a time when most women feel strong.

So, if you see a woman wearing a t-shirt and fanning herself with a fan or a magazine at a bus stop in winter … That is a powerful woman on her way to work or in the process of reinventing herself to be even greater than perhaps she imagines.

Wonder Woman …

If you’re seeking to develop products and services that appeal to these women through marketing and advertising campaigns, acknowledge their confidence and independence. Women in their 50’s are like Wonder Woman – feet hip-width apart with hands firmly placed on their hips ready to take on the world.

And of course, this isn’t what happens for all women.

If you’d like to know more, contact us:  livinginsights@threesistersgroup.com.au

In the meantime, we’d be interested to hear your experience.

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What if we acknowledged people older than us in our own culture

Does the Australian culture respect older people? 5 questions worth asking.

I love the welcome usually given prior to a conference, school occasion, or other event in Australia. We’re asked to do two things: acknowledge the traditional landowners as the custodians of this land AND pay respect to Elders past and present. But, has this practice spilled over into a cultural tendency to respect all Elders regardless of our heritage? Read more

Advice to my older self …

We’re often asked about what advice we’d give our younger self, but how often are we asked what advice we’d give to our older self? Rarely … if ever. Recently I had the privilege of attending a Seniors School run by the Uniting Church in Balgowlah. It was fun and inspiring. There was a double birthday celebration for two women – one had turned 80 and the other, 90 years of age. As a result of that brief visit, this is the advice I’d give my older self …

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4 personal lessons about ageing

The creeks had burst their banks, the only road out was flooded with water hurtling past at over 1metre high and powerful enough to sweep any vehicle downstream along with trees and all manner of debris that was loose and vulnerable to such strength and intensity. There’s no landline, no mobile, no Internet and I’m by myself.  Whilst I’m happily ensconced in the warmth of our shed with a fire constantly burning I’m acutely aware of my isolation. Combined with my forced isolation and the company of Martin Seligman and Gloria Steinem, here’s the four things I discovered about me and ageing …

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Turning the page: saying goodbye and embracing the next chapter.

We’re moving. Not major. Just from one part of Sydney to another. We’ve never lived in the area we’re planning on moving to and don’t know the area particularly well. The process is challenging and exciting.  Here’s why …

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3 ideas for a peaceful and happy Christmas

This year I’ve come to Perth to celebrate Christmas with family. It’s been a few years. Often it’s stressful as I’m a bit of a perfectionist, a foodie and enjoy creating the magic of Christmas for my children.  This year I wanted to do all of this without the stress. For celebration preparations to be more peaceful. So far, so good. It’s been fun and relaxing, and this is why.

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Celebrating carers at Christmas

I have several friends who are caring or have cared for a loved one – either a spouse, parent, or child. My experience of caring is limited to when I took care of my father in the last weeks of his life before he finally passed away after a rapid decline in health due to lung cancer. My observation of carers is this …

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Why this 7 minutes is inspiring

I rarely read, listen or watch biographies or autobiographies.  Sometimes though there’s a story that unexpectedly touches and inspires me.  This is one of those stories.  Read on to hear the story and why I found it so encouraging.

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Welcome!

Welcome to my blog. Over the coming months I’ll be sharing my thoughts, observations, and discoveries about ageing.  Join me on my journey.  I’d be interested in what you have to say too.  Stay tuned!