I’ve been thinking about people who are a generation or two older than me. I can’t call them the elderly because I may get a clip around the ear and also because, as time is a one way conveyor belt, I too, will one day become old and I don’t wish to be described as elderly. Age of course is all relative, my sons already think I’m ancient and see little distinction between someone in their 40s and someone in their 70s, even 30 year olds are looking a bit over the hill to them but from my point of view, I see old as being retired, to keep this clear I also view middle aged as retired.
The reason for my ponderings is because I’ve been watching how older people get spoken to. I know dementia is an issue for some but it’s not something that gets handed out with the bus pass, so why do I keep hearing younger people speaking to older people as though they are dim foreigners. Slowly, loudly and in words of few syllables. People in their seventies grew up with rationing still in place, they saw society structures fall apart and reshape themself through the 50s. In the 60s they exploded. They decided that liberation was something that everyone should benefit from. They do owe us an apology for the awful fashions of the seventies. They have lived through lots of wars, strikes and recessions, massive technological breakthroughs, they witnessed man first leaving the planet, so if they don’t know who Cheryl Cole is and don’t consider Robbie Williams as a tortured individual let’s not assume that they are senile old duffers eh?
On one occasion I accompanied my mother whilst she was house hunting, the agent kept talking to me, saying “your mother will find it’s nice and close to the shops.” In front of her! When we left I asked mum if that was normal. Apparently it’s completely run of the mill. Now what I don’t get is that as you retire and become “invisible”, it must really hack a person off. So why don’t they do something about it? They are the baby boomers after all and we know there’s a lot of them about and they were pretty militant in their time. As they look forward to tiny pensions, and extortionate fuel bills why don’t they get together and rise up? Imagine if a political party was formed solely to address the needs of the retiring population, I bet they’d do well in the elections. Even the concept of retiring is undergoing a massive shift. It used to mean stop working and live for another 10 or 20 years. Now we seem to go on for another 40. Forty years of retirement? That’s bonkers. We have a burgeoning post 60 population who really need to be addressed head on. As a society we just can’t afford it but we’re going to have to do something. My bet is that if politicians stopped ignoring them and starting talking to them we might be able to shake things up a bit.
In this culture we seem to venerate the young and the money-makers. I see nothing wrong with that in moderation but it seems daft to ignore the experience gained from knocking about over the decades. It also seems massively disrespectful to assume that because someone can’t open their e-mail that they must have lost their IQ along with their last haircut. But what do I know I’m just a whipper snapper. Honest.