This is the first post to introduce the Living Better Conversation. We’re living longer, can we also live better? For those of us who want to continue living independently at home, we suggest that we need to change our thinking to create the New Old Age.
What’s the problem?
Many commentators have described Australia’s structural ageing. Much of the discussion is sensationalist, suggesting a silver tsunami of crisis proportions, a problem to be solved.
Such commentary is, in itself problematic because it encourages a victim mentality and implies helplessness and dependency. We constrain our thinking by assuming that older people are dependent, consumers of resources and a burden on their families and society:
- It propagates a model of ageing that defines old age as a period of decline, loss, infirmity and dependency. We medicalise ageing.
- This thinking means that we then have to provide more and more care for our elderly, which we know will be difficult and costly with funding needed from governments and individuals.
What do we want instead?
Retirement in the future is not only going to be about moving to the beach or to the golf course, even if you can afford it.
- As we grow older most of us want to remain productive members of our families and society; society also needs this.
- Family and friends want to support loved ones, or others at home. Often the care load falls on one person and it is not easy to offer the right support at the right time.
Create The New Old Age
As we, the Baby Boomer generation, experience the ageing of our elderly parents and confront our own ageing, we will need to challenge and reinvent what we now understand as retirement and ageing. We will change the way we age; how we will live, work and play as we live longer.
This conversation is about how we want to live for the rest of our lives – what the New Old Age looks like.