By Susan Begeman Steiner
I am revising my old views on aging. I admit that I’ve considered aging something to avoid and be ashamed of. And I know I am not alone. Just look at the statistics for use of cosmetic surgery and botox.
The old view of aging has it that:
• Old people are invisible
• No one listens to them
• Old age is characterized by physical suffering
• When you retire, no one needs you anymore
Time for the new view to be spoken out loud. We are not the same “old” as our grandparents or parents were. We are the new old.
For one thing there are so many of us who are older. For example in the US 28% of the population are Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964). We still represent the vast majority of the work force. In 2014, there were 76 million of us. In that regard, one could say we ARE the economy.
But not only are there so many of us, we are also healthier. Life expectancy in the US according to the World Health Organization averages at 79 (based on 2013 data released in 2015).
We are redefining what is considered ‘beautiful’ and ‘normal.’ Look at the many movies released in the past few years dealing with themes of romance, wisdom and courage of older people, including Woman in Gold, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel I and II, Gran Torino, Something’s Gotta Give, Last Chance Harvey, and It’s Complicated among others.
No longer is having grandchildren the best thing about getting older. Now we have:
• Second careers
• Appreciation for the good things in life
• Depth – Read the excellent book by Ram Dass, Conscious Aging or check out the interview.
I’m not saying it’s not wonderful to have grandchildren…it is! It’s just not the only thing that’s wonderful about aging anymore.
So seize the day, Baby Boomers! When we were young, we redefined what it meant to be “real.” Now let’s redefine what it means to age.