Across the globe, people over the age of 60 are increasing in numbers more than any other age group. In Australia, the over 65 year olds will outnumber the under 15 year olds by 2030 and this will be a first in Australia.
We are living longer and in the not too distant future, our community will be made up of many more people over the age of 55. This trend is exciting. It means we have more life left in us yet, more time to fulfil dreams, learn new languages, develop hobbies, start a business or lead a cause.
However ageism, which is the “prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age” is an issue that needs to be resolved in Australia. It is an attitude creating obstacles, preventing communities to make the most of all ages and embrace what people over the age of 50 can offer.
Even though we need the larger community to embrace this change, the change starts with us. It requires a mindset change for anyone over 50 to stop thinking we are getting too old or that it is too late to start something new, to start over or to potentially live the most rewarding part of our lives past 50 and 60.
In the words of C.S. Lewis, “you are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”
The challenge for our governments and all of us in the broader community is to ensure that the needs of our ageing population to stay healthy and productive are met so that:
- We stay employed longer
- We can access finance when we need it
- We have access to the help we need to live well
- We are invited to be active and contributing members in our community, in business, government and social environments
A happy and healthy older community maintains the self-esteem of the entire community. Passing down knowledge, experience and wisdom, so that younger generations know there were people before them who walked a long way down the path of their own lives, inspires and shows the way to overcome challenges and creatively solve problems.
Sadly, in the Australian workplace, ageism is still alive and well
The Australian workplac, unfortunately, is a place where ageism is still alive and well. People as young as 45 years are being discriminated against. If you are 45 years old, working in a corporate environment and reading this, you would have good cause to bring this topic up at your next team meeting and have an open conversation.
Further research has shown that even though organisations see the value of older workers, with 34% saying there is no difference in the skills between younger and older workers, they will still succumb to the ageist attitude in denying employment to people over 50.
The Employing Older Workers report (supervised by the Australian Human Rights Commission) report found that almost a third of Australian employers request the age of the applicant, even though this is illegal. Thirty percent of those employers will not employ people over 50.
People over 50 have plenty to offer Australia’s workplace
With decades of experience behind them, over 50 year olds are in a position to offer knowhow, wisdom and plenty of energy to make change happen and drive good results, for every organisation they work for.
How did we get to a place where these skills because of age are being ignored? It is likely a combination of the following:
- in the past, we were thinking about winding down by age 50, because our life expectancy was shorter
- retirement by age 60 was part of “our conversation”
- we were relying more on the old age pension and superannuation funds being available to us by aged 60-65 (the GFC of 2008 changed this for many people)
- we were raised thinking that 50+ is “getting old”
- wisdom became a commodity, undervalued and not understood
It’s time for a change, and in the words of Ghandi, “be the change you want to see”.
With this in mind, anyone over the age of 50 or anyone working in aged care is in a position to help change the minds of those around them and embrace ageing Australians and the value they have to offer our wider community.
In doing this, we are contributing to the sustainability of our longer term economy.
There is still plenty of time to find your purpose and live it
- Do you still have places you want to travel?
- Have you always wanted to learn a new language?
- Do you want to lead a cause in protecting animals?
- Have you always wanted to start a business?
- Do you want to begin a new relationship?
If we are going to be living longer, then we need to make use of this time and live it well. There is still time to fulfil those dreams that perhaps you did not have time to when you were raising kids, looking after grandkids or spouses who needed your support.
Take the pledge with EveryAGE Counts
EveryAGE Counts is a campaign to tackle ageism faced by older Australians. You can take the pledge to help make Australia a place where all ages are treated with respect and value.
Have a look at their video, narrated by Aussie actor Bryan Brown: Imagine a world without ageism.
BlueMorph Media provides marketing services to the aged care industry, amongst others, and writes about ageing with health and wellbeing, getting better as you get older, living a life of meaning and purpose, using leadership skills and experience to start new businesses, hobbies and causes and much more. When some may think it is time to slow down, we believe it is a time to stand up and offer hard earned wisdom and leadership skills, to develop better communities with higher self-esteem and an increased sense of wellbeing.