The words retirement and ‘over-65’ can summon many images – some positive and some negative. What images come up for you? For me the image of people taking holidays, becoming a grandparent and enjoying life springs to mind, but also I get an image of someone sat at home all day, lonely, frail and no longer feeling of much use to society.
Simultaneously, I am aware that my brain has fallen onto a worn out stereotype. But I am not alone in my unconscious bias it seems. In fact, a survey of more than 1,600 finance sector workers found that ageism is a more widespread problem in the city of London than sex discrimination.
Perhaps this is why we need to reframe how we think of age.
Ageing is often something that happens to other people. While the young live in denial, a world of eternal health and agility, older people are quietly aware of the reality of human limitations. Research on this topic is important to me in my role as Research and Communications officer for Three Sisters Care and CHIRON, so for this reason I attended 'Age Does Not Matter', a 4-day festival in the OXO Bargehouse on London’s South Bank to radically rethink the concept of age through an inspirational series of co-design labs, talks, installations, photography, stories, sound and film.
Attending the festival yesterday got me thinking about how the old and young communicate (or don’t as the case may be), and how we can keep people integrating fully in society. For example, how we can make use of the wisdom and skills of older people? How can younger people pass on their perspectives of the world?
As part of the festival, I took part in the Workforce & Employment workshop which involved a day long brainstorm and debate session, where we came up with new ideas for how to improve the workplace and the opportunities available for older people. We looked at issues such as how to encourage older entrepreneurs, and how to create intergenerational dialogue in the workplace - all in all, we ended with some great ideas.
For more information on the festival you can go to www.ageofnoretirement.org. For more information on CHIRON please go to www.chiron.org.uk.