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Judy Dench Exotic Marigold Hotel

Judy Dench rejects ageing. Do you?

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.

Re-framing 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 …

  1. “I don’t do that because I’m past it (i.e. too old).”
  2. “That’s simply what happens when you get old …”
  3. “Going to the doctors is just part of ageing.”
  4. “I’m way too old for that!”
  5. “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

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Over 50 paradox

The 5 paradoxes of ageing & stereotypes

Ageing is the opposite of the term WYSIWYG: ‘what you see is what you get’. What you see is not what you get. Often there’s a chasm between outdated stereotypes of the over 50’s and their actual lived reality.

Invariably, when we think of an older person we see grey hair, wrinkles, and a stack of stereotypes often associated with ageing. For example, people over 50 are often considered less capable with their technology use, less fit or able, or someone with a poor memory, or simply “past it” when it comes to working or being employable. In fact, being over 50 is often associated with loss: loss of hearing; loss of eyesight; and, loss of memory.

The reality of the over 50’s

People over 50 are fit, healthy, technology literate, and keen to maintain some type of either full-time or part-time employment. In a study we recently conducted comprising in-depth interviews, small group discussions, and a survey of 500 baby boomers technology was generally not an issue – particularly for the younger baby boomers (between 50-65 years).  In fact this generation use technology for news, movies, staying in touch with friends (they’re big Facebook users), emails, games, and messaging. However, there are paradoxes.

5 paradoxes of ageing

Our study,  revealed these paradoxes:

  1. Whilst we might see a person with grey hair and wrinkles, according to our survey, baby boomers consider themselves at least 3 years younger than their actual age. In conversations with this age group they often say that they feel 10-25 years younger!
  2. On working … the paradox is that baby boomers often want to work, however, they want greater flexibility (potentially part time), and potentially less responsibility.
  3. The greatest paradoxes exist in the area of health. For example, over two-thirds of respondents rated their health as good/excellent. Yet, the majority also suggested that they were slowing down and experiencing poorer eyesight.
  4. Over half of our sample reported arthritis and aching knees. Similarly about half of this sample stated that they experienced forgetfulness and were concerned about dementia/Alzheimer’s.

“The only thing I hate about getting older is that your health starts to deteriorate, and that to me is the most important thing – having good health.” (Female, 50-64)

  1. Nearly everyone in considers diet and exercise as essential for healthy ageing, yet:
  • Only 20% of respondents had a fitness monitor (representing a huge opportunity for                                       the fitness monitor market);
  • None indicated that they undertook resistance training or did weight-bearing exercise                                  (crucial to healthy ageing, particularly for bone density and strength).

Forget the age stereotypes

The lived experience of a baby boomer is generally quite different to perceptions. The opportunity lies in delivering products and services that meet the needs of the over 50’s. However, when it comes to marketing don’t sell to ‘old people’.  Outdated stereotypical views of the over 50’s limits thinking and stifles creativity (e.g. Cliched images of silver-haired couples on a yacht or a couple strolling hand-in-hand on a white sandy beach are over-used, corny and misleading).

This age-group is varied and interesting. Don’t miss the opportunity.

If you’d like to know or understand more, please drop us a note at livinginsights@threesistersgroup.com.au with your details.  We’ll get in touch to arrange a time for a discussion about your challenges in reaching this significant market segment. We’re committed to changing ageing. We look forward to speaking with you.

 

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