My local council held a ‘Useful Event’ yesterday.
Fortunately for them I found out about it just after it had finished. I say fortunately because the title and tone left me speechless with indignation.
‘Life Is For Living’ aimed to offer advice, information, and activities for those aged 50 and over in a collaboration between the council, Partnerships for Older People, Age Concern and other agencies.
I applaud initiatives to encourage us all to stay fit mentally and physically and research highlights the particular importance for those of more mature years.
But I take serious exception to the lower age limit of 50 offered here.
When did turning 50 mean that you become an ‘older person’ in need of corralling into ‘activities’?
My generation, the Baby Boomers, defined as those born between 1946 and 1964 is without precedent. In general we are healthier, wealthier, more vocal and more confident. We have higher expectations for ourselves at this stage in our lives than our parents could have dreamed of, after their hardships endured and sacrifices made.
We grew up through unprecedented social and cultural change. The moon landings, political unrest, anti-war protests, civil rights, feminism, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix – music as a means to express an identity – the list is lengthy.
The world shifted on its axis and the early boomers were part of it, while those at the younger end of the spectrum witnessed the unfolding of events that defined the age and the seemingly endless possibilities that opened up in front of us.
The demographics show that within five years more than half of the electorate will be over 50.
This politicised generation has a voice that intends to be heard. Many do not want, or cannot afford to retire and the power of the ‘grey pound’ is seen by commentators as a significant shift in consumer culture.
Studies show that this ‘age bulge’ will only last for 30 years, when the demographics will correct themselves and my generation will shuffle off this mortal coil to that big retirement home in the sky.
In the meantime, I, along with my like-minded peers, will strenuously resist all attempts to frog march us into old age. (We have yet to concede to middle age).
We’ll carry on going to stadium rock concerts and staying out really, really late. We’ll find new adventures and new interests for ourselves and – if finances permit -broaden our fund of experience still further by travelling this great world of ours.
Yes, put information into the public domain about options and initiatives for a healthy, rounded life, but please, don’t assume that at 50, or even 60, this generation that has, and continues to enjoy unprecedented freedom is ready to be categorised as ‘older people’. It’s not.
The Canadians call my generation ‘zoomers’ (baby boomers with zip). That’ll do for me.