If you are a Boomer woman (born between 1946 and 1964), sometime this year you will be aged 50-68. And now—right now—Ladies, is the time for you to wake up to the realities of ageism if you haven’t already. Ageism—that nasty prejudice aimed at the elderly—is what awaits YOU if you do not start working now to thwart it where you see it and in your sphere of influence.
Ageism can be directed at you by younger people who dislike you for a personal reason or want your job. Ageism can be practiced by peers who deem you “less-than”; less-than their idea of positive aging, less-than what their need requires of you, and more demanding of you-name-it: your weight, your bank account, your spouse (or lack thereof), your politics or faith. Then there is self-ageism we practice when we don’t like what we see in the mirror and punish ourselves in some way. Love, in a word, is the answer. Here are a few love-in-practice anti-ageism techniques we can all get into:
Have mercy on older and much-older adults you see who struggle with things you don’t…and even more if you do. Watch how others treat seniors who are overweight, under-funded, or are hoarders; those who are trapped in handicaps of chance or of their own making. Those whose children are oblivious; or worse, are negligent. Your mercy will be returned to you, as mercy and kindness travel together. Then, be kind enough to yourself to start the changes you’ll need to avoid the merciless rebukes of old age.
Pay attention to wonderful women who became widows too young, persevering with heavy hearts, and to the old men who were unprepared emotionally and practically to lose their wives in a death that was supposed to happen to husbands first. They struggle to live alone, so give them attention and you will teach your own children that you will need some attention, too.
Make a plan and stick to it. The concept of “choice” after the age of 60 is really about two things: your health and your wealth, and how much of each you have to face your “golden years“. The next two decades can either be a joyful challenge or a dreary one. Chances are you will live out at least these twenty years. For your health, make a plan and stick to it about exercise, consuming fewer calories, and caring for your skin, teeth, feet and eyes every single day! For your wealth, do a personal SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. If you need extra income, research a field of business that will challenge your mind, open some opportunities for funding, and allow you to socialize in positive ways.
Renew old friendships and cultivate new relationships. The emergence of social media for Boomers has been quite a phenomenon in the last few years! In lifespan development terms, a woman’s late mid-life is a very satisfying age: she has finished, for the most part, the physical raising of her children, she has learned to manage her home like a business, she has earned respect in her career and workplace, and she has developed and maintained a lifetime of networking relationships. A woman in her fifties and sixties attains a life-satisfaction ratio that is very high compared to earlier decades of her life. The phrase “all pistons are firing” is apropos! Many mid-life women “re-boot” or “re-career” to find satisfaction and success in whatever they choose to do. The book, Vibrant Nation: What Boomer Women 55+ Know, Think, Do & Buy says it well: “Women in their 50s, 60s and beyond are breaking through the stereotypes of what it means to be an older woman. Where women could expect to become increasingly marginalized from mainstream society as they aged, they are now gathering strength and influence. This female age wave is already stirring up far-reaching impact on the workplace, the marketplace, the family, and the world at large. We’re getting to see firsthand what it looked like when the first generation of women who earned and managed their own money gets to rethink what work, retirement, and success can look like after 50.” (2010,xii)
Teach your children by example to nurture family relationships. Nurturing respect in family relationships in every phase of life is one of the best insurance policies we can have for a better aging. You would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at how many families become separated in their affections and philosophies once a parent(s) pass(es) away. My husband is a Probate, Conservatorship and Trust attorney who sees this all the time. The family structure suffers a severe blow in the loss of a parent. Even the strongest families can flounder; how can people really prepare for a loss they have never experienced? If we can find the grace to rise to our best selves—to keep reaching out to other family members with respect and compassion, and to strengthen the good that is in our families—there is hope for better times ahead. These worthy goals are challenged by personal grief and sibling rivalries, which often creep in unaware. Don’t let this happen to your family!
Ageism hurts us all. Like every other prejudice, ageism demeans its victims, separates us from the good in each other, and spawns negativity in the hearts of humans. Having to face the cruelty of ageism, much like the cruelty of like Alzheimer’s disease, is a terrible way to grow old. Ageism, because of human nature and the rapid upswing in numbers of aging Boomers, will only increase.
Now is the time to take action. No matter what your age, start today and get ahead of the curve. You really do want to avoid ageism’s grip: call it out now, or when you yourself are old, you might suffer its ugly effects. For more information on ageism, go to http://ageismhurts.com. Make sure to watch the video.
©Di Patterson, MSG CPG “If good real estate is all about location, location, location, then success in aging is all about attitude, attitude, attitude!” http://dipatterson.com/