Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Ageist tripe

I do get annoyed by the ageist nonsense that people throw around so thoughtlessly. From what you read, you'd think everyone over 60 was hopeless, helpless, gormless and generally past it.

You'd also think that we oldies caused all the setbacks and difficulties younger people are having to cope with, deliberately and selfishly sabotaging everyone else's lives while we swan off on our umpteenth cruise to some exotic location.

Just some of the more persistent myths:

1) We're all chronically ill and taking 20 pills daily. Actually, some of us are quite fit and healthy, believe it or not.
2) Our memories have gone and we can barely recall our own names. Lots of oldies still have photographic memories.
3) We're stealing jobs from young people. Employers often find oldies more reliable and more efficient than youngsters.
4) We're personally to blame for sky-high house prices, sky-high tuition fees, the lack of decent, well-paid jobs, and the cash-strapped NHS. No, they're largely the fault of politicians not planning properly for the future.
5) We're all about to fall over and break our hips. Only if we try to hop, skip and jump down the high street.
6) We sit around all day watching soaps and nature programmes. We're just as likely to be jogging or hill-walking.
7) We've all got huge pensions or private incomes. Plenty of hard-up oldies have to decide whether to eat or heat.
8) We all go on luxury cruises at least twice a year. See number 7.
9) We're all intolerant fuddy-duddies. Some are, while others are red-hot radicals itching for a socialist utopia.
10) We're no longer interested in sex. There's no shortage of randy septuagenarians, especially in the age of Viagra.
11) We loathe the internet. No we don't, we use it all the time. We like funny cartoons and fluffy kittens just like everyone else. Oh, and why not Skype our friends in Australia and Alaska?


  1. Well said. Along with #3, as the baby boom retires, a lot of experience and group knowledge is being lost, providing post-retirement opportunities for interested retirees. (But I wouldn't know anything about that.)

  2. Mike: I think that's true. At 69, I'm still working and my skills are very much appreciated. Some youngsters can be extremely careless and lackadaisical.

  3. I suppose in answer to the criticism you could always suggest that they look at Mick Jagger....can't see him on a cruise, somehow...

  4. Helen: Indeed, Mick Jagger's probably a lot fitter than the average twenty something. And there must be many oldies who've done manual jobs and are almost as fit.

  5. I am not sure that Mick Jagger is the best example. He looks awful and is probably consuming a lot of strange poppers. I have no special opinions about 'oldies'. There are many clich├ęs about elder or old persons.There are young people already ill and old people still in good healthy and active. So your very long List about oldies means nothing to me because you can use it the same way for young people.
    Mia More

  6. Mia: Very true that you could produce a similar list of biased nonsense about young people. I do think though that negative assumptions about oldies are a lot more common than those about the young. In fact the young are generally put on a pedestal as being more attractive, more intelligent, more enterprising etc. For example, all those young female musicians who get endless media publicity although a lot of them have very limited talent.

  7. I agree with Mia More and have little to add. Strange, very strange post you wrote there, Nick. You appear to have some sort of beef with youngsters. And why all those nonsensical comparisons which, essentially, just amount to put downs of twenty somethings?

    Also, I do not understand why you even repeat that which you may have picked up in vacuous newspaper/magazine articles thereby drawing even more attention to the very myths you complain about.

    As to baby boomers having fucked up some of our youngsters' future - let's not forget it's not the youngsters who are claiming it. It's the - in certain quarters so maligned - experts who have pointed this out. Neither does it make sense you saying it's not "oldies" who are responsible it's politicians. I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. Who instated those politicians? Who voted them in? You may be living your own relatively satisfying life, bewildered by it all, but it won't do to abdicate personal responsibility for what happens to future generations.


  8. LOL!!!
    where have I been? I didn't know we were being blamed for all that!
    in my young days I remember a saying being tossed around...
    "never trust anyone over 30"
    who had come up with that one?
    America is literally OBSESSED with youth and celebrity.
    even our buildings.
    they are getting a TINY bit better about it now... but they still tend to tear down anything old (people included) and put up huge and NEW!
    it's a mindset. sad and apparently here to stay.
    I wish I could be around to see the kardashians when they're VERY OLD!!! LOLOL!
    just big huge butts and boobs and plastic faces I expect.

  9. Ursula: I have no beef with youngsters. What made you think I did? The reason my mind turned to all these myths is my reading yet again about oldies being a huge burden on the NHS.

    Actually I've read of quite a few youngsters complaining about the legacy we oldies have left them. It's not just the experts or the media. And yes, of course I voted for some of the politicians who did all the damage (though not the current lot). But once they're in office and they decide to do things I never voted for and weren't in their manifesto, there's sod-all I can do about it. Like Tony Blair suddenly bringing in tuition fees, and agreeing to colossally expensive privately-financed hospitals.

  10. Tammy: I suspect Britain's increasing obsession with youth and celebrity is another thing we've copied from the US. And I well remember that saying "Don't trust anyone over 30". Personally, I wouldn't trust anyone over 70, ha ha. Goodness, the thought of the very-old Kardashians is quite mind-boggling. Perhaps they'll all look like Caitlyn Jenner? Or Jocelyn Wildenstein?

  11. They don't look all that unlike Jocelyn Wildenstein already.....

  12. Helen: Oh, come now! They do look a bit plastic, but they haven't gone quite that far....

  13. Hattie: I certainly shan't. You're obviously out to fleece me something rotten.

  14. What made me think you have a "beef with youngsters"? You do make, to my mind, occasionally quite disparaging remarks about them. Innocent example: Saying that Jagger could outrun a twenty year old is ridiculous unless, of course, the youngster is grossly overweight and/or in a wheelchair.

    To put it another way, Nick, and, yes, I do think you a good guy with nothing but good intentions, yet sometimes you do fall into traps. Traps you most likely do not recognize. Nothing will be gained by emphasizing some imaginary and overblown generation gap. To my mind, and in my experience, the generation gap is vastly overrated. I come from a large family, have many siblings, nieces, nephews, indeed the Angel (age 25) with plenty of people of all ages (their parents, my parents, grandparents)in the mix. Friends and their own appendixes. If anything it's the young and the old who get on best and understand each other. But understanding needs mutual respect. Just as most youngsters recognize that their elders have largely lived their life in different circumstances and looking back, elders should, and in my experience do, pay respect to those just setting out in life. It's not about one being better than the other. It's not a competition. Two generations coming from different ends. Mind you, and please smile, I sometimes do wonder about those born in between the young and the old. Lost in no man's land. Look for answers there.

    Last but not least: How did you feel when you were just on the threshold of adulthood and its responsibilities? Didn't you look for encouragement from our elders rather than being alienated by the constant putdowns(at least as portrayed by today's media) on grounds of your (young) age?


  15. Ursula: Mick Jagger has a very strict exercise programme and is very fit, as you can see if you watch him onstage. A lot of twenty somethings are so unfit they're turned down by the Army and the police.

    I didn't say there was a generation gap, only that there are too many false assumptions about the old. As a young adult, I did indeed look for encouragement from my elders. I didn't get much though. My father was an irascible curmudgeon, as you know. I can recall a newspaper sub-editor who was endlessly scathing. But I was inspired by a lot of elders I didn't know personally - like Ronnie Laing, Fritz Perls, Barbara Castle and Tony Benn.

    Right now I have a lot of much younger friends and acquaintances, and we get on very well. And I'm very inspired by people like Lena Dunham, Laura Bates and Paris Lees.

  16. Bijoux: So they say. I certainly don't feel old myself, despite my physical age. Somewhat world-weary perhaps, but not old.

  17. I agree with everything you say, but the fact is that the population is aging...and with it comes the comlex picture of chronic health needs so much more comlicated by those experienced by the aged of thirty years ago.....we are living longer, and kept alive longer and so our heath needs are corespondingly complex.......and EXPENSIVE

  18. John: Well, as a nurse you know what's going on in the NHS at first hand. But my impression is that health needs are increasing through every age group, what with diabetes, asthma, arthritis, obesity, heart problems, neurological conditions, cancer etc. And if we weren't spending absurd sums on things like a new nuclear power station and updated nuclear weapons, we'd have a lot more money for the NHS.

  19. Andy and I are amused at how old folks (in their 60's and early 70's) are portrayed on TV. We're older than that and not quite that decrepit yet. We also laugh when some our health newsletters imply anyone over 70 is completely over the hill. There are no guarantees that we won't suddenly fall apart, but so far so good. :)

  20. Jean: It's very common to see oldies portrayed as grumpy, crotchety old sods who take exception to everything in sight. Or as you say, over the hill and tottering feebly from one room to another. Well, we're not necessarily either of those.

  21. I am over 60 and not hopeless, helpless, gormless and generally past it. If anything, I am younger at heart than teen agers! Or at least that is what the young ones in my life tell me!

  22. Ramana: Younger at heart than teenagers? I like it. Personally I'm younger at heart than a wee baby fresh out of the womb, ha ha.

  23. Nick,
    There are people who make their living from analysing how money is spent, in this case how it is spent by the NHS, so when somebody reports on the increasing expense of medical care for the elderly, it is fact.
    There is no need to be personally upset by the reporting of a general trend. You are fit and well and don't cost anything so just be grateful that you dont fit the statistics.
    It's not all about you!

  24. Kylie: I've checked the figures, and you're absolutely right. More than two fifths of the NHS budget goes on those over 65 (which is over 10 million people). I think what annoys me isn't the fact that the elderly need a lot of medical care but the way this is seen as a burden and a liability rather than a problem to be solved.

    I think it's natural to be personally upset by sweeping statements about the elderly, just as I imagine you would be upset by people saying Aussies are all stupid.

  25. Ah..... but now you're admitting that your memory is rubbish.... :-)

  26. Scarlet: Yes, but it's always been rubbish. It's not something that happened as I got older. Probably inherited from my mother, her memory is hopeless at the best of times.