I went to a focus group this morning. The focus topic was “Age Friendly Community Project” in our Local Government area. Members of the community were invited to attend and have their input. We covered topics such as: outdoor spaces and buildings; transport, housing; respect and social inclusion; communication and information; volunteering and employment; and community services and health.
The comments were positive (we live in a lovely part of WA) and some suggestions for improvements were put forward. It occurred to me that we were all fitting too nicely into a box – answering questions usually asked of seniors. There is nothing wrong with that, but also nothing NEW in that!
I raised the topic of the knowledge, skills and experience of seniors and the capacity for this to be utilised and recognised in the community. This seemed to touch a spot with the other attendees as well. It strikes me that it is a little like saving up your “gold” in a bank account until you have a wonderful supply of this valuable metal, but never accessing it to reap the rewards of the supply gathered over a lifetime. Then just burying it…
I know it is difficult to share wisdom gathered through experience – I for one never wanted to listen to an older person telling me the right way to do things. I WOULD listen to them now though. Just think of the mistakes that we could avoid making.
I have no idea how we could turn this situation around. All I know is that if we passively sit by and accept society’s stereotype of the “over 50’s” then the status quo will continue.
Something tells me that the “baby boomer generation” are not likely to sit by passively though. I hope I am right there!