Several months ago I relaunched my company with a new brand — The Aging Experience with the tag line Just Rock It!. It was a deliberate strategy. Aging is a taboo subject after all. Consider:
- There is age bias, common stereotypes we associate with older folks, like they walk slower or can’t hear well.
- There is something Princeton researchers label Prescriptive Prejudice. These prejudices include:
Succession, the idea that older adults should move aside from high-paying jobs and prominent social roles to make way for younger people. Identity, the idea that older people should not attempt to act younger than they are. Consumption, the idea that seniors should not consume so many scarce resources, such as healthcare.
- Society stigmatizes those diagnosed with dementia, including Alzheimer’s as well as the family caregivers of these folks.
My platform has always been about putting the positive spin on aging. Not to say aging doesn’t come with its challenges. But a positive mindset can go a long way in helping you rock your aging years instead of wasting away in them. Here are some examples of how I play this out.
- My first book was entitled Who Moved My Dentures? That should give you an idea off the bat where I stand. It is a book of human interest stories about seniors who rock it, living a quality life in places we most associate with death – nursing homes. In turn, the reader learns lessons about aging and about long-term care options. But it is done in a non-threatening way.
- I couch the family caregiving experience as something that should be seen as an opportunity, not a burden, one where you thrive not just survive. I should know. My caregiving journey just ended with the passing of my mom.
- I encourage people to think about and prepare for aging sooner in life – physically, financially, emotionally.
- I speak to audiences about The Meaning of Life (so presumptuous), eight lessons we can learn from older folks about living a quality life.
So you see it is all about the positive spin on aging, on rocking it as you age. Here are some folks who are indeed rocking it as they age.
- Barbara Beskind, 91, works for IDEO designing products for older adults.
- Winifred Pristell, 77, called “Heavy Metal” is a competitive weightlifter with two world records.
- Fauja Singh set a marathon record, for age 90-plus, of 5 hours 40 minutes at the age of 92, at the 2003 Toronto Waterfront Marathon. He continues to run for pleasure.
You get the idea. There are thousands of stories of other Barbara’s, Winifred’s and Fauja’s out there and we need to surface them, tell them, share them. My intention, with your help, is to find stories of people who are rocking it as they age. And we will share these with the world to show and continually reinforce, positive, active aging. We will turn these into radio interviews, podcasts and You Tube segments. So please be in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell me about inspirational older folks who can teach us all about being young at any age. We are living longer and to live well we all need to rock our aging years. Thanks.