POSITIVE AGE BELIEFS REALLY ARE A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
READING THIS BOOK WILL EXTEND YOUR LIFE BY7+ YEARS By Gigi Eligoloff
Agetech, the subterranean world in which top scientists and pharmaceutical companies race to produce age-reversing technology, has – in case you haven’t noticed – been having a moment. And, given that there are (for the first time in human history) more people on the planet over 60 than under 5, this is clearly where the smart money is.
Some of the promises exploding out of the research may, on the face of it, have more in common with the Marvel Universe than reality, and we’ll get on to those ‘near future’ magic pills later. For now it might be an idea to get your hands on a new book called Cracking the Age Code by Professor Beccy Levy. This is a book which will disrupt your views, and possibly your experiences of ageing. Whether you read the whole thing or not, it will change the way you think – adding up to seven and a half (better) years to your life.
Professor Levy is the leading authority on how beliefs about ageing influence ageing health, her book’s full title, Breaking the Age Code: How Your Beliefs About Aging Determine How Long and Well You Live, is a goldmine of revelations with impressive research behind it.
Here at This Age Thing we’re passionate about changing the prevailing – and in the most part destructive – age narrative forever. Levy’s book is offering us all an age bonus, with immeasurable benefits. Ageist attitudes stop older adults developing and fulfilling their ambitions and get in the way of all of us leading full and thrilling later years.
Ageism takes on so many different forms. From discrimination in the workplace to everyday ageism. From supposed rules about what we wear, where we go and how we should behave, to the shame we are often expected to feel about displaying natural signs of ageing. It’s time to push back on the invisibility cloak that much of society seeks to throw over us the second we turn 50, or 60 and beyond. Attitudes to age and ageing differ depending on many factors, During her research, Professor Levy asked the people she met to give her the five words that sprang to mind they thought about ageing. In China one of the most popular words was ‘wisdom’. In the U.S, the most common answer was ‘memory loss’. The negative narratives of age being synonymous with decline will continue to damage us, to cost our health service money, to result in earlier retirement, more depression, isolation and all the ripples these stones create in the future lives of those concerned. Positive age beliefs really are a matter of life and death, or at the very least leading a happy life, or a miserable one.
Given the increasing ‘grey wave’ of the world’s population, books like Levy’s are essential reading. By advocating for the immense, and actually rather magical power of a positive age belief, maybe this new older age of humans could help to build a kinder, more inclusive world.
For more information about Becca Levy and her research go to becca-levy.com You can buy her book at all good booksellers.
The Centaur will keep people mobile whatever their age. Paul Campbell, Centaur Robotics design director, knows first hand the importance of restoring users’ dignity when starting to design anything. He shares his personal story with This Age Thing.
As designers, we want to create positive change. But when I started my career, I never imagined that I would eventually draw on my Dad’s experience with a wheelchair to inspire something that will make such a huge difference to so many people.
Bill Campbell struggled in restaurants where his wheelchair blocked the aisle. He couldn’t tuck his legs under the table. Being looked down on when you’re wheelchair bound also impacts your self-esteem.
At home, I jacked up the dining room table. But most of the kitchen was still out of reach.
Doorways were widened and rooms rebuilt. While the wheelchair gave Dad some options, it restricted him too. And it looked medical. He hated that.
After Dad died, the penny dropped. The wheelchair ignores the outside world. So instead of changing the world to fit the disabled, I designed something that fits the world, that’s the right proportions and looks good. Something that spins on a sixpence and fits into the space of a dining room chair.
The Centaur’s footplate provides a platform so you can get into it without falling over. A lifting column helps users reach high shelves and even more importantly, look people in the eye.
The Centaur runs on two wheels and uses selfbalancing technology. It’s built with all the robust engineering principles you would expect from designers and engineers drawn from the automotive world.
The world has never seen this many ageing people before. Most of them have so much to offer, so much to live for.
I want people to live more fulfilled lives, to be proud, to get to where they want to be. I want to end social isolation from reduced mobility.
Dad was a great designer who worked on many of Ford’s classic cars. They worked efficiently, whilst also being stylish and desirable. That’s why I know he would’ve loved the Centaur.
For more information about the Centaur visit centaurrobotics.comBy Paul Campbell
THE WHEELCHAIR IGNORES THE OUTSIDE WORLD. SO INSTEAD OF CHANGING THE WORLD TO FIT THE DISABLED, I DESIGNED SOMETHING THAT FITS THE WORLD.
DESIGN WITH US
hy bother involving older people in design? Can we tell you anything that you don’t know already? Let me show you some of the insights and experience of living in the third age of life; what we have to offer, not just for solutions relating to older people’s problems, but for good design for everyone.
We, older people, are a microcosm of society, with the same variety of skills thereof, and we have more of our time to offer. We are happy to complete questionnaires and surveys, we are willing to try prototypes, and we can advise, as end-users, which ideas might appeal to older members of the general public, and which might not.
I have been privileged, with other members of VOICE (part of UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing) to be invited to participate in panels and workshops seeking to help people age healthily and keep living independently longer. I have campaigned for, and witnessed how the inclusion of older citizens’ views has not only improved the development of ideas aimed at benefiting healthy ageing but also actively prevented the further development of concepts that older people would not, or could not use.
Why, for instance, do we not see a greater variety of mobility vehicles, or even tricycles on our roads? Many would benefit from using them, but because they are often poorly designed, these vehicles are not deemed acceptable because they highlight that their users are ‘old’, and those who are ‘old’ do not want to be stigmatised for being ‘old’.
Neither do we accept restrictive and ageist concepts that, for instance, wrongly assume older drivers are a danger to others on the road. Statistically, they are not. Older drivers have less accidents than younger drivers. We avoid rush hours, congested roads, and generally drive shorter distances and we know that cars can be a lifeline to accessibility and avoiding isolation for many. Many recent advances and adaptations in car technology have been developed, with the help of older citizens, to allow older and less able bodied driversto overcome their limitations and enjoy more years of motoring. And don’t we all enjoy the convenience of parking aids, rear view cameras and alerts from sensors, which improve our driving experience, while making our roads safer for all, young and old?
I am often surprised at the stereotyped and ageist views expressed by both applicants and expert members of panels in projects, particularly of older people’s perceived inability to use digital devices. The problem is that repeated stereotyping often prompts older citizens to behave in the way society expects of them. Older people do use modern technology, such as smart phones, computers, wearables, and remote-controlled devices, but how, and how often, they use those devices in retirement may be quite different from how they used them in their working lives. Without regular use, that expertise is easily lost. Perhaps these problems could be resolved by enlisting older people to help produce better signage and clearer instructions, through their experience and insight of the problem.By Ros Wilson, member of VOICE.
VOICE is a passionate community of members of the public, patients and carers who contribute their unique individual experiences to improve research and innovation. Becoming a member is absolutely free and everyone is welcome.
You can find out more at www.voice-global.org
Many of those in later life are concerned about their privacy, and seek reassurance when asked to disclose personal data on the internet. Could it be used against them? Could it be a scam? Are they savvy enough to understand? And although cameras placed around the home and the use of wearables, may provide increased safety and security, they may also cause the resident worry about who may be tracking them.
So, what does this mean for me and other lay panel members? Being involved in these panels, and in VOICE, opens new avenues of thought and provides us with insight into cutting edge research and innovation. Listening to often quite different expert views on these panels, and the inspiration, but also constraints, of projects proposed by applicants, broadens our world view. I hope to remain involved and engaged in these panels, seeking slick, not clunky, innovative designs. What we older members bring to the table, is that we have the experience of being older. We have experienced the stigma, stereotyping and ageism that can hold us back from demanding equal treatment in good design and the innovation of products and systems that suit our needs and abilities.
WE, OLDER PEOPLE, ARE A MICROCOSM OF SOCIETY, WITH THE SAME VARIETY OF SKILLS THEREOF, AND WE HAVE MORE OF OUR TIME TO OFFER.
Karen Arthur, ex teacher is now a Fashion Creative, Sewing tutor and podcast host. Her podcast Menopause Whilst Black is now in its third season and centres on the mid life stores of Black British women. Having taken up modelling in her late fifties, you may have seen her smiling eyes gracing the Specsavers TV and billboard campaign and E45 skin care ad.
THIS AGE THING ON STYLE WITH… KAREN ARTHUR
Can you tell This Age Thing your name and age?
I’m Karen Arthur and I’m 60.
What does style mean to you, how has it changed with age?
I was a teacher for 28 years before moving into becoming a fashion designer and now a fashion creative. I have sewn since I was 15, having been taught by my Barbadian mother, and I had a small side hustle making bags. But the move to work specifically with women, to create clothes that help them to feel good about themselves happened after my career ended. Funnily enough I wrote a blogpost about style in the days when I wrote blogposts.
I think that whilst you can be taught to put outfits together, style is more often something that natural and inherent in some. In the past my style has been pulled together to create a look that placed me either on trend or in charge or both. As I’ve aged and particularly since leaving my teaching career and entering the menopause (yes they were linked) my style is pulled together with clothes and items I love.
Whatever I wear there will be a memory, colour, texture or history (mine or others) that makes my pupils dilate and brings me joy. I don’t care what others think of my look. It suits me because it’s what I want to wear. Done. The menopause has given me a voice I didn’t know I had. I no longer hide behind my clothes. They are a true expression of me – an older Black woman who has no intention of becoming invisible.
You can listen to Karen’s podcast Menopause Whilst Black on all podcast platformsBy Karen Arthur
“…there is something about the wearer’s confidence that shines through any outfit. No matter which size or age you are, body confidence is one of the most effective accessories…”
If you could change anything about the way people buy and use fashion, what would it be and why?
Stop. Consider. Will you be able to make more than one outfit from it? Will you still want to wear it in 3 or 4 years time? Will it last the distance? Do you know who made it or whether the brand pays fairly? Will you wear it again and again? I’m a big fan of slow fashion and I’m aware that paying more for a garment that comes from an ethical brand is an incredibly privileged stance. So I would ask the questions above. I’d love people to take a moment to think before buying something that they won’t wear or will only make a few items. I also think that saving outfits for best is an outdated concept. We’re just emerging from a global pandemic and most of us know people who didn’t make it through. Life is a special occasion. Wear the posh dress and celebrate yours anytime you feel like it. If that means wearing a ballgown to Sainsburys? Why not?
Which items in your wardrobe bring you joy?
So so much! The piece of fabric I use as a head wrap slash scarf that I bought 35 years ago and has been on most holidays with me since. Memories woven within that fabric are priceless. The gold nike air max 90s that I bought to wear to my sixtieth birthday party. Because
GOLD TRAINERS! The faded orange wooden earrings my eldest daughter brought back from her travels in Vietnam six years ago. The vintage St. Michael red maxi skirt that belonged to my late aunt Monica. And more. Every item has a story.
Do you have a game plan for the future?
Yes and No. Yes because I know that I want to continue to do the things I love, do less and get paid more. I am much more cognisant to my worth these days so I don’t offer my time freely or lightly. No not exactly because life would be so boring if we
knew precisely what was going to happen and I don’t believe the universe works that way anyway. There is so much that is out of our control. Have a basic plan then roll with it, say I.
Who or what is the greatest inspiration?
I have several in this category. All women, possibly no surprises there. My Mum because she is the blueprint of the woman I am. My two grown up Girls who have a fearlessness that I am in awe with. My Grandson is a masterclass in living in the moment as all toddlers are. My sister went back to uni and changed her entire career like it was nothing and now works as a registered dietitian in a hospital. I have a hankering for strong women I guess.
Do you ‘follow fashion?’ Do you have a favourite shop or brand?
Absolutely not. I mean I read Guardian Fashion email every week in-between sniggers. Recently they told us all that toner midriffs are back ‘in’. Just f***k off. I like to know what madness is going on in the fashion world. I’m most interested in how brands are becoming more sustainable and paying fair wages. And I love women like Aja Barber who call out ‘greenwashing’ and constantly encourage us all to shop smart.
Do you think style is accessible to every age, and every budget?
Yes. Money cannot buy style. I leave that there.
What would you say to someone who might be thinking about changing careers or starting a new business in later life?
It will sound gib but there’s never a right time. Your ducks will never all be in a row because life doesn’t work that way. Remember that the brain doesn’t know the difference between fear and excitement. Do it. Karen’s podcast Menopause Whilst Black on all podcast platforms
You can listen to Karen’s podcast Menopause Whilst Black on all podcast platformsImage by Rich Barr
Writer, artist and older model, Alex B finds out that confidence in who she is, is the key to wearing what you want and when the heck you want.
“In the 21st century brides and grooms come in all ages, shapes and sizes.”
According to statistics, an increasing number of couples getting married are well into their forties or much older. And this poses a problem, particularly for women, as men at any age and for any formal occasion always have a suit to wear. That brides are young and virginal is still a deeply entrenched stereotype, and any bridal magazine or catalogue will have page upon page of beautiful wedding gowns worn by young, beautiful models who represent the ‘typical’ bride.
But this is far from being the whole story. I am a model who is 64 years old. I have modelled countless mother-of the-bride outfits but not a proper wedding
dress. Only once did I have such an opportunity, but not for a fashion show or a fashion spread, but rather for a series of photographs in a book
In visual narratives women over fifty are only present as mother-of-the-groom or mother-of-the bride, wearing well tailored suits and imposing hats.
Mature couples are likely to take their wedding vows as a meaningful life commitment, having often experienced divorce or loss and arriving at the decision to marry again or marry for the first time, with a clear head as well as with a true heart. So why should mature matrimonials not be celebrated with all the pomp and circumstance of any other wedding? Why not don the most beautiful gown you’ve ever owned, rather than making do with a classically tailored suit, just because you are not young anymore? Just a thought.
Read more at thisagething.co
THE GREY MODEL DISRUPTORS
rey Model Agency was always an art project. Our launch campaign “Am I Grey?” was disruptive; challenging the concepts of grey, age and identity. Models were chosen for their stories: decadent body art combined with a bald head and grey beard; long shocking white hair combined with a sleek toned extreme yoga body; black, gay, grey and proud. The campaign was fronted by my friend (and disruptive icon), Sara Stockbridge.
As a top music and advertising photographic agent, I saw through the eyes of photographers, directors and creatives. I saw what advertising lacked. It lacked the art of lifestyle. The art of wisdom. The art of age. I was bored of vacant beauty. With fresh subversive photography showing ‘classic’ models in a new light, our first bookings were with Hunger Magazine, Youjai Jin at London Fashion Week and newspaper features across the world.
Within the walls of Grey we continue to disrupt.
In 2019 fashion, beauty, advertising and couture had reached a stalemate in diversity concepts, so I devised the alternative ‘Grey’ London Fashion Week GLFW.
Silver haired fashionistas in art T-shirts by Jamie Reid, Matt Carroll, Banksy and Joe Machine adorned with the IA London couture collection, mixed old and new subcultures, mixed fine art and fashion, mixed haute couture with urban wear, mixed static exhibition with performance.
The GLFW Hologram runway showed off emerging talent, and focussed on sustainable materials. It gave a nod to the diverse ghosts of models unseen across international fashion weeks, as well as anticipating the death of the runway show. But it also invited the attending public to participate – the ultimate diversity show – breaking down pervasive ‘them-and-us’ barriers.
Yet, diversity goes beyond the self. Next generation grey/fashion/beauty means diversity of ideas. If runways were dead then could/should computers offer an alternative? A meta changing room pod, 3 dimensional printed accessories, VR fashion installations?
The Doctor Martens brand went a long way down the road with us in sponsoring the groundbreaking concept, but in the end advertising budgets couldn’t extend far enough and the idea was lost.
Three years later on; post Brexit, post BLM, post lockdown, in 2022 the industry has been forced to change and adapt. This year the science fiction meta pods of 2019 are now being installed in retail outlets and online, with Grey models being booked to scan their bodies for the metaverse changing rooms.
The beauty of ageing is the journey. We at Grey encourage a celebration and intertwining of youth and age. The #nextgenerationgrey embrace the #newgenerationgrey and together they create the magical blend of past and present into a diverse future.
The art project that is Grey Model Agency turns out to be a social, psychological, political, economic and sustainability insight too!
Not very grey at all.
You can find out more about the Grey Model Agency at greymodelagency.com
Take our quiz
ARE YOU AN ACCIDENTAL A
1. You’re in the opticians and the salesperson calls the previous customer a ‘sweet old lady’. Do you…
A Mentally agree, she did look sweet, and old!
B Think that’s pretty patronising, but say nothing.
C Think that’s so wrong, and point it out to the salesperson.
4. You are house hunting in a nice area with good schools. The houses are very large and many seem to be inhabited by older adults.
A You think the government should legislate to ensure older homeowners vacate large properties when they no longer need the space.
B Wish they would consider downsizing to give the space and houses over to young families, but mentally decide you will need to look further afield.
You answered mainly As Well, there’s nothing accidental about your ageism. It’s time you reassessed your stereotyping of older adults because your ideas are totally out of whack with what’s real.
2. When a woman and her adult son visit the dentist together, should the dentist address:
A The son, he’s probably the decision maker, helping his mother out.
B The Mother.
C Both of them, there’s a reason they came together.
C You think, how inspiring I hope I get to that point when I am that age.
3. Your car is involved in an accident with an older driver. Do you think:
A Typical — older people should be banned from driving, they are a total liability on the roads.
B Oh dear, they have clearly had a bit of a ‘senior’ moment.
C Older drivers are statistically safer drivers than younger ones, it’s probably my fault.
5. An older couple kiss and cuddle in a restaurant in public. Do you:
A Think ‘Argh my eyes!!!’
B Find you are surprised that passion still happens when you are older.
C Say ‘I’ll have what they’re having!’
You answered mainly Bs While not a totally raging ageist, you do need to have a little word with yourself. Older people are safer drivers, don’t all get dementia, are not ‘sweet’ and don’t appreciate society expecting them to be less able, less active or less worthy than any other age group in society.
You answered mainly Cs Go you. You are an in touch, evolved human being open and ready for an intergenerational world. Totally future-proofed you!
Do you want to combat ageism?
The World Health Authority has everything you need to to learn about ageism, to raise awareness, and spread the word through social media #AWorld4AllAges.
SAY IT LOUD.
WHY AGE-DEFYING IS REALLY AGE-SHAMING
he mega-successful designer Vera Wang, 72, was swamped following a social media post in which she wore a crop top and shorts.
For some reason this has caused all sorts of waves of excitement amongst many journalists as they thrillingly begged to find out her ‘secret”. Yahoo referred to the item of clothing in question as an “agedefying crop top”. The Daily Mail headlined the ‘news’ as:
“Vera Wang proves age-defying as she flaunts her toned physique in a crop top and leggings…”
As I gazed at the headlines, and read her age-defying ‘secret’ ( ‘sleep and a vodka cocktail’.) I realised it was making me feel really uncomfortable..
I wanted to look at why these nano news items make us feel bad about the signs of ageing and the way our bodies change as we grow older. How that impacts our desire for visibility, and our subsequent acceptance of age-shaming in society.
1. Can we just retire the ‘flaunt’ word?
Google’s definition of ‘flaunt’ is this:“to display (something) ostentatiously, especially in order to provoke envy or admiration or to show defiance: newly rich consumers eager to flaunt their prosperity.”
Flaunt is a very bad word suggesting that the perpetrator is doing something wrong, and isn’t displaying any guilt about it. So is it wrong that she is wearing a crop top? Or that she is old? No prizes for guessing the right answer on that one. Let’s move on to the second accusation — that she had an age-defying secret.
2. It’s not actually a secret, it’s just someone else’s business
Secrets in the press are sticky things. Not so many years ago Victoria Wood apparently died after a ‘secret’ cancer battle. Most sensible and compassionate people corrected this to a ‘private cancer battle’.
Behind the vodka cocktail, there were also regular workouts for Wang, which makes a far less sexy headline. But the flurry of news did make me ponder what we mean by secrets to ageing. Surely they mean a secret to not looking like you are ageing? Isn’t it time to call out the word-soup nonsense we’re consuming by reading this drivel.
3. If it’s really great to defy age, what are we waiting for?
Why should we defy age? What is the point? And why are we only expected to ‘defy’ age when we are over a certain number of years old. Children aren’t expected to age-defy. Imagine the outrage if an eight year is publicly shamed for not looking younger.
At which age do we switch from needing to look older, to needing to look younger. Is there an age between those two forces where we should all just…stick?
But really how bored must we be as a society to be judging ourselves on growing up? Let’s not be complacent and let headlines twist our self of pride in ageing. Say it loud. I’m old and I’m proud!
I’ll drink a vodka cocktail to that.
What do you think? Do you think we should defy ageing? Or should we be proud of being older? Be part of the conversation, at thisagething.co and on Twitter and LinkedIn.
AGE-DEFYING AS SHE FLAUNTS HER TONED PHYSIQUE IN A CROP TOP AND LEGGINGS…”
A THIRD OF US ARE HAVING
THE BEST SEX OF OUR LIVES
SWIPE AT HEART IN AGEIST ROWBy Gigi Egliohoff
Tinder, the ubiquitous online dating champ, may find it has lost some of its cash-rich older clientele since consumer watchdog Which? caught them in an apparently ageist act.
The app, owned by the Match Group, was recently found to be charging its older users more than younger lonely hearts for their premium service. Basic Tinder is free, but their premium membership which offers such tantalising extras as more daily ‘likes’ and something they call the ‘rewind’ feature, carries a subscription. Talk about taking the shine off finding your potential soulmate.
Tinder has claimed that this pricing anomaly is less about charging older users more, and more about offering discounts to younger users. Quite the spin. While most users, young and old, are no doubt very happy with the free service where you can candy crush your way through endless potential partners, some people will always want more. The app quoted costs
for their premium option at 48 percent higher for those aged 30-49 (compared to the young ‘uns )and users over 50 were charged 46 percent more on average for a 12-month subscription than their youthful counterparts We can only wonder why the over 50s are not being over-charged as much as the 30 and 40 somethings. Perhaps it’s because a third of us are apparently having the best sex of our lives. And, who wouldn’t want a piece of that, right?
What do you think? Are you surprised that businesses have different price tariffs for different ages? Does it make you angry? Be part of the conversation, at thisagething.com and on Twitter and LinkedIn.
YOUR LIFE IS EXTRAORDINARY
“ ”Image by Susanne Hakuba By George Lee
WHEN THIS AGE THING... MET IRON GRAN
You were 52 when you started running, what was the trigger?
I was living in Northamptonshire and I went to watch one of my husband’s colleagues take part in a half marathon. When I came back I said to my husband that I wanted to do something like that. I was a full time social worker and hadn’t done anything remotely like a half marathon. I remember my husband saying that I wouldn’t be able to run as far as Northampton, (two or three miles away). That comment was significant; it was a challenge and I took it.
What is stopping women signing up to marathons and triathlons?
The big question that needs to be explored is ‘why’ is there a resistance for women? Why are women still in the minority in these sports? Yes, we need more role models, people we can look up to, but there is also the menopause factor which until recently hasn’t been talked about enough.
You started Silverfit, what was the idea behind that?
It became clear to me that the greatest difference I could make was by working with older people. We started off in Hyde Park doing Nordic walking and now offer everything from Pilates, Yoga, Walking Football, Badminton, indoor cycling, gym/ fitness classes, Bollywood dance and Silver Cheerleading. We know from a lot of research that people keep coming because of the social element and because of the friendship. Fun is the key ingredient.
Can you share one story that personifies the success for Silverfit?
We have one member who when she joined had quite serious health problems. She started Nordic walking, yet a year later she was running and completed a half marathon for Silverfit. She had never dreamt about doing anything like this a year earlier. It was so gratifying to see the change. But this is just one story among hundreds.
What would you say to the person at home reading this, saying that I could never do anything like Eddie?
I think we can all make a bit more effort to focus a little bit on a slightly healthier lifestyle without being intimidated by it. And start small. You never know where you will end up.
You can read the full interview with Eddie at thisagething.co. You can find out more about Eddie and her work at Silverfit at www.silverfit.org.uk
Eddie Brocklesby only started running at the age of 50, yet by 2015 at the age of 72, she became the oldest British woman to complete an Ironman Triathlon. We spoke to Eddie about what made her start running and why she founded Silverfit to encourage more of us to become fitter as we age.
“ The big question that needs to be explored is ‘why’ is there a resistance for women? Why are women still in the minority in these sports?”
ALEX ROTAS’ STRIKING PICTURES OF OLDER ATHLETES FEATURE FACES
DEMONSTRATING GRIT, DETERMINATION, PAIN AND JOY AND ARE A REFRESHING ANTIDOTE TO THE IMAGES OF DECLINE OR BEIGE THAT ARE SADLY STILL THE NORM IN MASS MEDIA PORTRAYAL OF OLDER PEOPLE. THIS AGE THING MET UP WITH ALEX TO FIND OUT ABOUT HER WORK.
AT THEIR PEAK
Describe the project and your motivation for doing it.
I used to teach visual culture at university so when I hit 60, I thought I’d take a look at how older sportsmen and women were represented. To my surprise, a web search produced no results at all. That was when I thought, wow! I’d start to produce the images that didn’t seem to be out there.
This Age Thing. Do you think age matters?
Less and less, in fact, as I get older myself. It’s a frightening prospect when you are young, because of all the negative connotations around ageing (which we must change!). But when you find yourself actually in the older category yourself, you realise nothing much has changed at all!
Has this photo-series changed you and how you view age?
Yes! It’s made me much less fearful of the decades ahead and much more aware of the fact that you can set new goals for yourself right up until you’re 100 (and why stop there?). Plus I have taken up running myself as a direct result, and I love it! I’m very slow but it has opened up a whole new community of lovely people to me and I too have now got new running goals myself.
At 72, I’ve embraced the realisation that age is both relative and nuanced; it’s actually possible to feel 72 and child-like in certain situations without that being a contradiction in terms. I now believe we need to get away from the old/young binary where Young is Good and Old is Bad – both are very different”.
You can read the full interview with Alex at thisagething.co
You can find out more about Alex and her work at alexrotasphotography.co.uk
02. Yoshio Aiba, Japan, 70, leads his team to victory in the men’s relay, 4x100m, 70-74 year old age group, in the World Masters Athletics Championships, Malaga, Spain, September 2018.
03. Gurdev Singh, India, 81, competing in the men’s long jump, 80-84 year old age group, at the World Indoor Masters Athletics Championships, Torun, Poland March 2019.
9.42 secs. Victor’s British record time is 8.80 secs.01. Rose Green, USA, 80, just after becoming world champion in the women’s 400m, 80-84 year old age group, in the World Masters Athletics Championships, Malaga, Spain, September 04. Jane Horder, Great Britain, 65, sets a new world record of 13.22secs in the women’s 80m hurdles, 65-69 year old age group, at the British Masters Federation National Championships, June, 2022. 05. Allan Long, Great Britain, 79 (right) and Victor Lovell, Great Britain, 77 (left), battle it out in the men’s 60m race, 75-79 year old age group, at the British Masters Athletics Indoor National Championships, March 2022. Victor took Gold in 9.19secs closely followed by Allan in
Meet Ruth Rose, founder of the Seaford Mermaids all year round daily swimming group, and the UK’s oldest transgender woman.By George Lee
I first came across Ruth about five years ago. It was a cold and bright winter morning on the South Coast and I was on the way to swim in the sea. I was visiting a friend who had just joined a local swimming group and she had told me about the charismatic woman who had inspired the formation of the sea swimming group. Walking down to the beach I saw Ruth, standing tall, majestic and fabulous. She was surrounded by a small group of people listening to her every word — about the tide, the temperature of the sea, the height of the waves, drinking in her immense knowledge before going in for their daily dip.
One rainy morning, I was lucky enough to spend time with Ruth. What a joyful morning. Ruth’s story is full of inspiration, challenges, bravery, compassion. So much wisdom on how we can live the best life possible, at every age.
Ruth’s life is made up of many layers; navigator in the RAF in WWII, mechanical engineer, mountain
rescuer and father to three children. I say to Ruth, your life is extraordinary. She brushes it off, “I don’t think I am unique at all”. But Ruth is unique. Ruth, who is now 89, is the UK’s oldest person to undergo gender reassignment surgery at 81.
Ruth shares that she knew at nine that she felt different. It wasn’t until she had been living as a woman for six years, that her GP suggested to Ruth that she have the operation to fully transition. The joy that the operation has given Ruth is palpable, “my doctor said there was no reason for me to not have the surgery.” We both agree that the ability of Ruth’s GP to see Ruth the person — her vitality, energy and optimism, and not Ruth’s chronological age was highly significant in Ruth’s journey to become who she had always known she was.
You can read the full interview with Ruth at thisagething.co.
Ruth’s life is a testament to taking everything on, the highs and the lows. And it is Ruth’s philosophy for life here that I want to share with you all — she even has a name for it — Ruth’s Five-A-Day:
Look after your body. It’s largely up to you. Take control.
The next most important thing is having friends. Loneliness and isolation are killers for older people.
The next step is to try something new. When the chance arises. Try it.
Give something back. The world owes you nothing. If you have the feeling that you can do something for others, do it.
The last thing is the most important. To appreciate your life. If you don’t, you have wasted a day of your life.
“ You reach your retirement age. You’ve got 30 years of active life ahead of you. That’s half the life you’ve lived to date. Now make up your mind, what the hell you’re going to do for 30 years.”Image by Carlotta Junger Luke
TO INFINITY AND BEZOS
ALEXA, PLAY ‘WHO WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER’ — AMAZON FOUNDER, JEFF BEZOS BACKS SCIENTISTS WHO DISCOVER HOW TO REVERSE SKIN AGEINGBY 30 YEARS. By Gigi Eligoloff
When you’ve gone from selling everything conceivable under the sun (with the option for next day delivery), and travelled into space, there’s really only one frontier left to conquer, and that’s exactly what billionaire Jeff Bezos is reported to be doing.
Jeff Bezos, one of the richest humans on the planet, has apparently invested in Altos Labs, an anti-ageing start-up which has designs on prolonging human life. And the latest claim from the Lab is enough to make anyone sit up and pay attention, however happy we feel in our skin as we age.
Scientists at Altos have, it’s been reported, discovered a way to reverse ageing in human skin cells by 30 years. Goodness only knows what that means if you’re actually aged under 30, but for anyone over 50 the thought of reversing gravity and visibly turning back the clock is terribly seductive. Imagine having all the wisdom and experiences that come with age, but without the lines! You know you shouldn’t want it, but it’s a tantalising idea isn’t it? Longevity. Technology, the online agetech hub for investors and age tech nuts, explained the science.
“The new method, based on the Nobel Prize winning technique scientists use to make stem cells – the Yamanaka factors – overcomes the problem of entirely erasing cell identity by halting reprogramming part of the way through the process. This allowed researchers to find the sweet spot –the precise balance between reprogramming cells to make them biologically younger but still able to regain their specialised cell function”.
Science Fiction is turning into Science
Fact, in fact many people in the know believe that in the next 20 years, we will be expecting to live up to the age of 140. The global anti-ageing market is already mind-bogglingly large and it’s predicted to grow from around $191.5bn currently to a colossal $421.4bn by 2030, according to a report by P&S Intelligence.
For the fabulously (and some might say stupidly) rich – the myth and madness that comes from chasing immortality is now something they can, and are investing in. Then again, if you’re a billionaire what else could you wish for? As the saying goes, you really can’t take it with you, but now just maybe, you can push the date back to fit your schedule better.
Promises of magic beans, pills and tinctures aside, we know that just holding a positive age belief is totally free, and, based on our cover story, this could result in an extra 7.5 years of a better, happier life. So, let’s love the life, and the skin we’re in. But, maybe keep a little eye on the emerging agetech, the future is coming for us, and it’s looking unbelievable (for its age)…
You can find out more articles about how biotech is helping us to age better and longer at longevity.technology.
WHY MANY OVER 50S ARE SWAPPING RETIREMENT FOR A PART-TIME CAREER
In 2000, the average life expectancy in the UK was 77 but in 2020, it rose to 81 (Statista 2022) – and health experts are now arguing that today’s midlifers are in their 60s.
This means that people in their 50s and 60s who may have once been looking to retire are now considering other options for how they could spend the next 20-30 years of their lives. Many people are swapping traditional retirement (which would typically involve winding down and resting up) for exciting new opportunities and ventures.
Part-time work has become a popular avenue for over 50s who are looking for a better work-life balance but don’t want to lose the benefits that come with having a job – such as the chance to develop and maintain new skills, top-up their pension, feel part of a community, stay active, and make social connections.
For example, on her 60th birthday, Rest Less member Sue French from Nottingham swapped fulltime employment for a community-based role in her local convenience store.
She said, “Being able to fit my work around my very busy life as a new grandma is wonderful. I have the flexibility to work when I want and I have the support of my manager and the other coordinators.”
“Outside of work, I also have many varied interests. My two main hobbies are visiting the theatre (I’ve seen The Mousetrap five times now), and listening to live music [...] But my favourite thing is spending time with my daughter and new grandson, who is of course the most beautiful baby ever born!”
When it comes to age, the goal posts are changing because we’re living longer, healthier lives than ever before.
The list of part-time opportunities on offer is wide-ranging, and other roles that Rest Les members have entered into in their 50s, 60s, and beyond include dog walking, tutoring, personal training, entrepreneurship, childcare, consulting, and hair and beauty.
It’s never too late to develop a career that you love – how to turn a hobby or passion into a day job.
Nowadays many people are using later life as a chance to reinvent themselves. After raising a family and/or being committed to a particular career, it can be a time to start thinking about the things you want to do, rather than the things you have to do. This might mean considering how you can turn your hobbies, interests, or passions into a job that pays.
Rest Less member Chris Calder from Leicester is someone who turned a creative hobby into a day job in his 70s. He started writing novels while recovering from an aggressive form of cancer – and now in his 80s, he’s written five novels and works as a full-time author.
Speaking about his journey to becoming an author, Chris said, “Writing that first book has taken me into a new profession, one that will last for as long as I choose. The rest of my life, probably.
“I now have a new career that I absolutely love, in a world previously unknown to me. The writing/publishing community is immense, worldwide, and supportive. My circle of friends now includes my readers and others who write. Not a bad result for someone who didn’t start until well into his 70s!”
So exactly how can you turn your passion or hobby into a day job? Here are our top tips…
Consider whether you want to work for someone else or yourself – for example, if you’d love to work with animals then there’s a huge range of employed positions, such as veterinary nursing or dog training. Or for roles like writing or gardening, you might find it preferable to go self-employed.
Do your homework – if you want to work for yourself, then are there any licenses or insurance policies that
you need to apply for? And in both employed and self-employed roles, will you need to study or retrain first?
Explore ways to promote your services – if you decide to go down the selfemployed route, then how you advertise your services will often be the key to its success. Social media is a popular and powerful advertising tool that can help to spread the word about your business quickly.
Be patient and persistent – building a career you love can time but you will get there if you keep chipping away. Chris is proof of that!
Rest Less is a digital community and advocate for people in their 50s, 60s and beyond. You can find out more at restless.co.uk.
UNITED BY THE CLIMATE CRISIS
It’s become an accepted truth that the young are at war with older generations who are utterly unfussed about the future of the planet.
For example, when Time magazine named Greta Thunberg its person of the year in 2019, it called her a ‘standard bearer in generational battle’. The US singer Billie Eilish was more direct: ‘Hopefully the adults and the old people start listening to us [about climate change]. Old people are gonna die and don’t really care if we die, but we don’t wanna die yet’.
But, as I examine in my new book, Generations, these stereotypes collapse when we look at the evidence. For example, a major Europe-wide survey has shown that there is no real age divide in the recognition of climate change. Around half of the Pre-war generation think the world’s climate is definitely changing. That figure rises to around six in ten among Gen X (now in their 40s and 50s), the generation most likely to hold this view, with younger generations slightly less likely to be certain.
It’s true that the young are more likely to ascribe this change to human activity than the old, but even here, the differences are not huge: half of the youngest generation, Gen Z, think climate change is down to us, compared with a third for Baby Boomers, who’re in their 60s and 70s.
Concern also seems to be shifting up the age range over time. For the past few years, it’s tended to be Gen Z and Millennials who’ve identified climate change as one of the most important issues facing Britain in Ipsos MORI’s Issue Index. But in the latest study, Baby Boomers are almost twice as likely to pick out climate than Gen Z.
And the cliches are just as far from the truth when we look at how the different generations act. Claims abound that Millennials and Gen Z are ‘purpose-driven’ consumers, only supporting sustainable or socially responsible brands.
But it’s actually Baby Boomers who are most likely to have boycotted a company in the last 12 months in the UK, with Gen Z about half as likely. On this measure at least, ‘cancel culture’ is more of a middle-age thing than many may suspect.
These myths have clearly stuck with the public. New research conducted in partnership between the Policy Institute at King’s College London and the New Scientist, reveals that the public are much more likely to think it’s old people who believe it’s too late to avert climate disaster – whereas it’s actually young people who are the most pessimistic about our ability to change path. Similarly, people think it’s the young who are boycotting products, with hardly any (correctly) picking out older generations as the most active. Creating or exaggerating differences between generations on climate, is a particularly self-defeating approach to a potentially existential challenge. If we want a greener future, we need to act together, uniting the generations, rather than trying to divide them.
You can read the full article at thisagething.co
You can find Bobby’s book, Generations – Does when you’re born shape who you are? at all good booksellers.
THERE ARE MANY MYTHS ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GENERATIONS – BUT NONE ARE MORE DANGEROUS AND DESTRUCTIVE THAN THE CLAIM THAT IT’S ONLY THE YOUNG THAT CARE ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.
THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT WE ARE LIVING LONGERBy George Lee, Co-Founder, This Age Thing.
I hope you have enjoyed our first This Age Thing newspaper. I also hope that the stories inside are showing you that getting older doesn’t mean an automatic decline, that there are so many ways to age positively. Yes there are challenges — as there are at all stages in our life — but now is the time to challenge this negative ageing narrative. It is time to declare loudly that age is not a ‘problem’. That there is so much to celebrate. A greater sense of who we are and what is important to us. A richer life perspective gained through lived experience. A mature brain which explains why we are able to solve problems from a greater number of perspectives.
The central poster designed specially for This Age Thing by the giant of design Michael Wolff (89 years young) and NB studios says it all through the quote by Mark Twain, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” We hope you pin it up somewhere where you can be reminded that you are in control in so many ways about your future self, daily.
As Professor Becca Levy says in our first story, changing our mindset on ageing and encouraging more positive age beliefs is the key to helping us live not only longer but healthier. Not just one or two years more but an extra 7.5 years of healthy living.
If you have enjoyed this newspaper and want to find more positive stories about ageing or want to get involved in helping real research into creating products, services and places to work, live and socialise then, join our growing community at thisagething.co We also want to hear from you on all our social platforms
Together we can redesign a world to help us all live longer, healthier and happier.