On air: Is it time to re-evaluate what ‘old’ means?

Tom WatsonFifty-nine year old Tom Watson became the hero of many fifty- and nearly sixty-year olds on the weekend when, at just a whisker away from retirement age, he nearly took one of the most prestigious titles in the sporting calendar – the British Golf Open.

It was interesting how much of the coverage focussed on his age. “Golden oldie Tom Watson offers one for the aged” was one headline, and many others had a similar flavour.

As Mark blogged below certainly in the entertainment media there appears to be an obession with youth (older stars being sacked to make way for more wrinkle-free versions.)

But as people in the developed world are living longer, should we be re-evaluated what ‘old’ means?

And if ‘old’ isn’t as old as it used to be, what should be the consequences of that? Do we all have to accept that we will work longer? Should the age that we access public pension funds be later?

And if we’re saying that we should be able to work later, what about other social aspects like having children? There was much outcry when a 66 year old Spanish woman conceived (she has since died – you talked about this on the blog last week). If forty is the new thirty, then what age are you ‘past it’ when it comes to doing things like having children, working, driving and starting a new career? (This psychologist argues that forty is the new twenty when it comes to having children.)

If you’re getting older, do you feel pressure to keep ‘acting young’. Or do you feel as though society still wants you to ‘act your age’?

80 Responses to “On air: Is it time to re-evaluate what ‘old’ means?”

  1. July 20, 2009 at 14:06

    You are as old as you feel, as it goes.

    As long as people can keep in good health, physically and mentally, they can live as long as possible. With birth control, there is no danger of getting an overpopulated world. Thanks to technology, there are many jobs that can be done by the elderly, not necessitating great physical effort.

    The great step now awaiting scientific researches is not just to help people be past 100 but to keep looking as young as if they were still in their forties. This can help the world population keep young for ever.

    • 2 Peter
      July 20, 2009 at 18:16

      I think that your Age has nothing to do with the year you are born – it has everything to do with your METABOLIC AGE. My dad is 67 years old, but his body’s Metabolic age is only 26 years old! This is because he is increadibly fit – he runs marathons, eats very healthily and lives a very healthy life overall.

      An unfit and uncared for body can have a much higher metabolic age than their physical age, it would be interesting to see what other listeners think of Metabolic Age.

      Interesting show!

      Swindon, UK

      • 3 Rajendra Vottery
        July 21, 2009 at 06:18

        I agree with Peter. I’m 65 and keep hearing from people I’m with that I don’t look my age ( or, act my age ! ) . I gree that this has to do with the metabolic age. I’m inspired by what you have said about your father (67 years of age ); I’ll keep up my efforts to remain metabolically young for as long as I can.

        I’d also like to add here that apart from eating the right things, one needs to limit the quantity of what one eats to reasonable minimum.

        A word or two on the general attitude toward the elderly who once were young !

        If one feels wanted, one tends to go on. It is therefore for the not-so-old to deliberate on whether they need the elderly around them.

        Congratulations, Peter. I wish your Dad a long and a happy metabolically young life that he surely has ahead of him. Keep wanting him around, Perer; you can hardly age if your Dad remains young, can you, now ?

  2. 4 June v Franklin
    July 20, 2009 at 14:18

    Please, please do not get rid of Arlene Phillips. Why do you want of get rid of her, she is a perfect mix with the other judges and has all the experience and expertise. What are Alesha Dixons’ qualification other than the fact she is a very pretty young lady. Is this another example of the BBC vendeta against mature ladies, how come this ageism does not apply to men – just how old is Bruce Forsyth and Terry Wogan???

  3. 5 steve
    July 20, 2009 at 14:18

    Yikes, slow news day I guess. Age is relative, the older you get, the younger old is. When I was 10, 25 seemed old. Now at 34, 50 doesn’t even seem old. And when I’m 50, I’ll think 70 isn’t really that old. And finally, I probably won’t consider someone old until they cannot take care of themselves and live in an assisted living place.

  4. 6 Steve in Boston
    July 20, 2009 at 14:30

    If you want to see what old is not, check out some of Paul McCartney’s performances on the David Letterman show last week, like this one;

    He’s 67 years old, and as he did with John Lennon, is once again breaking down barriers and leading the way to something new–Rocktogenarians.

  5. 7 John in Salem
    July 20, 2009 at 15:01

    “Old” is a state of mind.
    On a related note, we are quite possibly only a couple of decades away from having the capacity to double or even triple the average human life span.
    What will “old”, or even “young”, mean then?

  6. 8 Nanci
    July 20, 2009 at 15:08

    I think we do need to re-evaluate what ‘old’ is. I think it makes economic sense and practical sense to raise the retirement age for those who are still willing and able to work. Not one size fits all. Some 75 year olds are in fantastic shape and want to keep working whereas some 55 year olds are in terrible physical shape.

    I think it’s a disgrace about Arlene Philips on Strictly Come Dancing. She should not be replaced. Some of her male colleagues are older or as old as she is. Wh;y aren’t they being replaced. I do think there is a double standard for men who are viewed as ‘mature and wise’ whereas older women are just seen as dried up and past it.

  7. 9 patti in cape coral
    July 20, 2009 at 15:09

    I sometimes wish my mother had not retired because she has way too much energy. She is always looking for something to do, and I have to make sure I mow my grass before it gets too long, otherwise I will come home from work and find her mowing it!

    I think our elders are a big untapped resource and are definitely undervalued, at least for sure in the states.

  8. 10 Jonathan (dazzling San Francisco)
    July 20, 2009 at 15:22

    Oh, good topic! I am so tired of obsession with age. TV spots are all about looking younger. Films about adults with actors so young and/or Botoxed that they look like teenagers. Nothing wrong with looking good, but a fight against time is one that you will surely lose, folks! Unless your name is Dorian Grey, or Little Richard.

    Pensions are in dire condition. In the US, Social Security is structured on retiring at age 65, an age set in the 1930s when life expectancy was around 70. Now it’s closer to 90. Europe and Japan populations are aging even faster. We’re living longer, healthier lives, and our friends in biotechnology say that dramatic life extension is just around the corner. We need to change public policy to accommodate new conditions.

    San Francisco

  9. 11 James Turner
    July 20, 2009 at 15:26

    I don’t believe I could have said any better than you have today. I watched the action Sunday. I am just a couple of weeks older than Tom. I was pulling so hard for him to win. Then he got the lead after the 17th hole, I was sure he had the win, but it just didn’t work out. Thanks Tom!

  10. July 20, 2009 at 15:27

    Age is all in the mind. When one is mentally active, physically fit, one is able to live intelligently, living life to the full in satisfying healthy ways. Fruitful communication of ideas with others with uplifting hobbies definitely help. Living life optimally and keeping an open mind really helps in keeping eternal youth. One’s frame of mind, philosophy and especially one’s attitude towards education help. For example if you believe that education is from the cradle to the grave, you approach life with enthusiasm, curiousity and tremendous sense of purpose. Food, nutrition, regular exercise, sensible habits and above all an open mind all contribute to longevity and eternal youth. Being able to communicate easily helps an individual to develop a positive philosophy.so very important.

  11. July 20, 2009 at 15:29

    In my teens my father asked me, What age do you consider old? And I replied ’60’, which he was a few years shy of.
    At 42 I went full time to university as a very mature student. At the interview the lecturer asked me, ‘Why do you want to go to university now? At your age you should be slowing down.’ My answer: ‘I feel my engines are just revving up.’ ( I’d spent twenty years raising a large family.) When I wrote an article for the students’ magazine they described me as a ‘Golden Oldie’. Age is always relative.
    I started a business at 50, my only regret being that I hadn’t done it earlier. I greatly enjoyed being a consultant on trading in Spain. But soon after 50 I began to feel my physical energy diminishing which was maddening, because I still had plenty of mental energy.
    At 60 I bought a property in France with my husband and we worked hard physically for six years to renovate it. I was never happier.
    Now 72 I still volunteer as an interpreter at a Free Clinic (Spanish), desk top publish three newsletters a month, and belong to various social groups. I think 70 is the new 60, the only limitation being physical energy, but don’t make retirement age later because there is so much of value to do with those precious years when one is not obliged to spend one’s time working for others. That’s really living.

  12. July 20, 2009 at 15:31

    Actually, people belong to age categories. Statistically, age means a number of years. There are people who age before their time. They look and are rundown. There are those who keep vibrant although they are more than 60.

    There should be no fear of getting old. One of my favourite old people is the late BBC correspondent aAistair Cook , who On March 2, 2004, at the age of 95, following advice from his doctors, Cooke announced his retirement from Letter from America. In his nineties, he kept lucid and with a strong voice.

    Such great people should be set as a good example for those who are afraid of getting old. Even if the body becomes less strong than it used to be, there is still the chance to keep a strong mind.

    • July 20, 2009 at 16:53

      It is absolutely about the stimulation you maintain as you age. Look at Mr. Cook, Mr. Mandela and Ms. Gordon my mom. My mother at 86 may not have the physical health, but she has the mental health as she keeps her mind sharp by arguing ALL the time and organizing trips and gatherings. Clearly Cook and Mandela have been doing more than that and in turn , accomplishing more than that.

  13. 17 Aanchal in London
    July 20, 2009 at 15:34

    People say that age is only a number and to some extend I agree with it. As people are living longer and the productive years of individuals are also increasing. We as society, should change our prespective of ‘what is old’. Rather than looking at a few wrinkles and thinking that this person is old. We should see how fit the person is. Age and considering self to be ‘old’ is also very personal to people depending on how they looked after themselves in their 30’s and 40’s. An obese teenager could also behave as a 80 years old, and a 70 years person can behave as a young person. We should be more open-minded about ‘age’ and should consider these points before calling someone an ‘oldie’.

  14. 18 robert
    July 20, 2009 at 15:36

    We shouldn’t use age to judge people. Society should deal with people based only on their ability (or lack of ability). Although in some areas there is a link (albeit a weak one) between ability and age, arbitrary age limits as to when we are and are not useful to the workplace are wrong. If a seventy year old can do a job without harming themselves or colleagues let them.

  15. 19 parth guragain,Nepal
    July 20, 2009 at 15:50

    the quest for being increases with each passing day .people become old but they act as if they are young.with advancement in surgery and medicine new techniques will be invented.as the population of old people increases the quest for becoming young will also increase.

  16. 20 Bob in Queensland
    July 20, 2009 at 15:58

    As a token oldie on the blog, I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I think many of the differences between age groups are disappearing: I listen to the same music as my kids in their 20s (and they quite appreciate my Pink Floyd and Who albums) and I interact happily with much younger people online.

    On the other hand though, I’m all too aware of the physical changes happening to my body. For all my attempts to pretend I’m still young, my knees are gone, my waist thickening and my get up and go got up and went a few years back.

    • July 20, 2009 at 17:00

      So true Bob! I am 49 and I am starting to feel all of those years on my knees amd see them on my butt. It is not too late to reverse some trends. I just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy last year with a man who is 20 years my junior, so I have all the motivation in the world to do so !

  17. 22 tipsylife
    July 20, 2009 at 16:05

    I am around 53, a single and feeling ok. I feel quite youthful with lots of energy to put to my work. I have a fairly busy schedule and most of my clients are youths (young women and young men) with whom I socialize very well. If you ask them, they will tell you that I am their agemate; maybe its my energy that resonates with them.

    Age is just but a number. I do not conform to stereotype definitions. Man, boy, girl, woman, white, black, religious, young, old etc are all stereotype categories for culture lobyists. A day is more important to me than a year and so is the next guy or ‘chick’ in a crowed near me. Ok? Some people want to live for a hundred years but what for? Death to me is not important. It will be just one more transformation and if they will have their WHYS in the after life, I will subscribe believe me. At the end of it, I will want people to say, “We haerd his roaring laughter only a minute ago”.

    There is no end to vitality or vigour. Its up to you to define your vision and the boundaries while the world rotates with you all the while. Whining and swooning is ok but even these have to be kept aside because they are mostly our cosmetic aspects.

  18. 24 Anthony
    July 20, 2009 at 16:11

    I think we need to evaluate the negative connotation that age reference brings up. Women are happy (at least in California) when I refer to them as “Young Lady” no matter what the age, but when I started to refer to women in my office (just for fun) as “Middle Aged Lady” and “Old Lady”, I get quite the opposite reaction.

    Re: the second question:
    Personally, I don’t give into what is “acting my age”. I play videogames still, especially with my son, love roller coasters, and “fart” movies/t.v. shows, but I also enjoy wine tasting, talking politics, and watching documentaries. I will sometimes refer to things as both tantalizing and sick. I never think about if it makes me immature or “seem old”, I do what I want (as Eric Cartman would say).

    -Anthony, LA, CA, 28 years old/young

  19. 25 Morf
    July 20, 2009 at 16:13

    Generally “old” is 10-15 years older than your current age.

    I’m not so sure now. Perhaps we need a new term. I am in my mid-fifties, but I have more energy and creativity (and fewer health problems) than most of my student in their early 30s or even 20s. They seem wearier and weaker.

    They seem worn out when they should be at their strongest and most productive.

    I think when it comes down to it, “old” just means tired. Perhaps tired and lost. That’s how most young people look to me: tired and lost.

  20. 26 Ramesh, India
    July 20, 2009 at 16:20

    Those were the times, I was just out of high school and started listening to BBC. I was greatly enamored by the voice, accent, reading syle and what not, of a news reader named Elezebeth Francis. Only a few days ago, I came to know that she was near her retirement age 25 years ago!! I haven’t come across such a great voice on BBC again. She must be very old by now but still young in my mind!

  21. 27 Margaret Harris
    July 20, 2009 at 16:22

    Old has changed a great deal in one generation. This may be a good thing for the individual, but it hard on the population explosion. It also depend on where you live. My parent both died before they were 65, but I and my brothers are all 65 or older and still going strong. It is expensive. In the US retiring at 65 if you are healthy is not a good a decision because most people will run out money. We did not plan to live so long. However in developing countries life has not changed that much, in many places it is actually worse as climate change and environmental destruction has made traditional livelihoods unfruitful, but new ones have not emerged. Unless we begin to work and plan together, the health of the earth will only get worse, and it won’t matter how long we live as it will take very little continuation of our thoughtlessness to destroy our environment. The world is heating up to fast, and if we don’t stop we will all die soon.

  22. 28 leti in palma
    July 20, 2009 at 16:32

    Oh yes…there IS an obsession about “eternal youth” these days, and a lot of industries are raking in the dosh, capitalising on peoples insecurities about not looking young any more.

    But what ever happened to the respect that we “youth” owe to our “elders”,the respect that comes from their having experienced more, lived through more events, and hopefully having acquired more wisdom on the way?

    Maybe the eternally obsessed about being wrinkle free and young-looking don’t deserve our respect, because their concerns are as superficial as their skin..
    C’mon people, love your wrinkles, they’re the statement of who you are!!

    As an artist I don’t expect any retirement age, I will continue to paint until I drop dead and …aha…here’s the thing…could everybody be pretending that they’re NEVER GOING TO DIE?

  23. 29 Rakesh
    July 20, 2009 at 17:00

    Old and Young depends upon ones physical and mental conditions. Its also a matter of economic status.
    Here in Nepal, average life expectancy is 55 yrs. We are from a poor country and we get old faster. Poorer live shorter. In the west, in developed countries, people live longer and they stay young longer.

  24. 30 Tom K in Mpls
    July 20, 2009 at 17:01

    In any situation, making a decision based on inadequate facts is a bad idea. Now stereotypes are generalized truths based on incomplete information. The age stereotype is no different from any other. To me, your question is ‘ should we use stereotypes?’. The answer, if you can’t afford the time and effort to get better info, sure. Any guide is better than none.

  25. 31 ali in Cairo
    July 20, 2009 at 17:04

    I am 58 and I do not feel any pressure to keep ‘acting young’. I never cared much for when my Mom used to tell me to ‘act your age’ when I was a kid and now that I am old enough to make my own choices – I choose to BE young and I only “Act my Age” when I can get a discount!

  26. 32 Tony from Singapura
    July 20, 2009 at 17:06

    Birth Rates are down, the average age of the population is increasing every year.

    Many people are carrying personal credit lines that I suspect cant be cleared if they retire normally.

    The return on retirment investments is down and generally many people dont have sufficient put away.

    I think these are reasons why we need to seriously consider working longer before retirment, so it may be by financial necessity that we need to shift the “old” goal posts.

  27. 33 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    July 20, 2009 at 17:13

    I have a photograph of my grandmothers taken when they were in their mid-50’s. They had grey hair done in old-lady styles, clunky shoes, matronly dresses over flabby bodies, and both had an elderly demeanor.

    I am now older than they were when the photo was taken. I color my hair and style it not much different from the way my 20 year-old daughter does. I look slim and trim in jeans or an above-the-knee skirt. I don’t go wilderness backpacking anymore, but I do often carry heavy loads of groceries two kilometers up the hill to hom.

    After 26 years of marriage, I am now divorcing my husband and starting life anew. I am not too old for a new start. I don’t think we are yet to the point where we can start resetting retirement ages and redrawing the lines between youth, middle-age and old-age. In only two generations, we have gone from frowzy middle-aged 50-somethings to a 50-something who’s ready to go out and start boogie-ing again. Let’s take our time, collect the stats, and figure it all out when–dare I say it–we are all a little older.

  28. 34 Nigel
    July 20, 2009 at 17:14

    Fifty something isn’t old. Next year I will be older than my Mum when she died. I still go deep sea fishing, jog 15 km per week when I’m a good boy, work five days a week, travel…..yup still going OK at sixty four.

  29. July 20, 2009 at 17:18

    I am 60, but am perceived to be 10-15 years younger (good genes and an energetic spirit) . Over the years, I have compared people’s reactions to “me” without knowing my birthdays, and then “me” with my age revealed. (The “me” doesn’t change, but their perceptions do.) The difference in expectations and treatment by others (especially those much younger) is remarkable. Though I prefer to be treated like I feel (45), I think it is important for others to know that older age is not a thing so easily stereotyped as we have done in previous generations.

  30. 36 Sunil from Boston
    July 20, 2009 at 17:29

    Age is a mere number. It is not a limit on skill, ability, talent, dedication and hard-work to achieve something, no matter what it is.

    It is purely mind-over matter and the way you carry yourself as you get older. Its all about attitude.

  31. July 20, 2009 at 17:31

    I heard this morning on National Public Radio that an elderly marathoner planned to “retire” from runnung marathons by running “only” 12 miles per day. I think that he is an octogenarian, but I don’t remeber the details well.

    Age is what we make of it, just as beauty is. We are just beginning to wake up to the fact that toothpick bodies are not beautiful. Similarly, it is very possible for someone to be 70 years old and the glowing and active picture of health; and who could call that young? On the other hand, it is also possible for a 60-year-old to have so destroyed his body with poor lifestyke choices that he gives up on life and passes on. Not many could call this young.

  32. 38 Julia in Portland
    July 20, 2009 at 17:33

    The one consistent wish I’ve always had since I was little was that I wanted to grow up to be Old and Wise. I’m getting one much faster than the other…..but I love getting older and I still have hopes for the ‘wiser’. This desire has only gotten stronger since I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 14+ years ago.

    Most of my female friends think I’m nuts for looking forward to my gray hairs and getting to 50 years old.

    The world and people are changing….the more a greater portion of the population moves in to an older age group the more acceptable it is going to be come.

    BTW – I don’t ‘act my age’ I ‘act my me’!

    • 39 RightPaddock
      July 20, 2009 at 18:50

      @Julia in Portland

      Age has taught me that wisdom is not, in my case at least, a product of “old age”

      However with luck, like me, you’ll get the consolation prize of a continued love of learning. And I hope, like me, you’ll not be bothered by so-called “ageism”. Earlier generations showed disdain for the older population, so why shouldn’t the Y’s & X’s.

  33. 40 Shannon
    July 20, 2009 at 17:41

    Although I am definitely beginning to feel a few middle-aged aches and pains, I have found aging to be a far more positive experience than that presented by the mass media in the west. Many beloved people in my life are in their seventies and eighties and continue to work and play with gusto, despite struggling, at times, with very real health problems. As western populations age we will continue to redefine what it means to grow older.

    Just before she turned 102, My great-great Aunt, who read two newspapers a day, played the piano, and LOVED to dance, told the people in her life in no uncertain terms what she wanted for her birthday.

    After a great deal of argument she got her wish: A long ride in the country–on the back of a motorcycle. She loved it! Died peacefully in her sleep ten months later.

  34. July 20, 2009 at 17:52

    Age to me, is just a reflection of how old this flesh is on this world and nothing else. It has nothing to do with a person’s ability, wisdom or performance.

  35. 42 steve
    July 20, 2009 at 18:11

    Given the way the economy works, and people aren’t saving money, or their savings becoming worthless, many will no longer be able to retire, so people are going to have to work at older ages just to pay their rent.

  36. 43 Anthony
    July 20, 2009 at 18:14

    From experience, I feel that sometimes companies just hold onto older workers because they are older. I’ve noticed they take longer to complete the job, can’t learn as fast, and over all do half the work and I notice they will sometimes hold up things by telling loooong stories that have nothing to do the the conversation. I say give the jobs to the persons who do the best job regardless of age, sex, race, etc.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  37. 44 Lucas
    July 20, 2009 at 18:23

    In The United States we have a 40 hour work week and almost everyone agrees that this is a strenuous amount of work to do each and every week. If we are talking about competition for jobs between old and young people during this recession, I wonder why no one is talking about shortening the work week? If we changed from a 40 hour work week to a 35 hour work week here in the United States it would have the effect of creating jobs to fill in the holes in our employer’s schedules. It might also decrease our individual stress levels and extend our lives if we are lucky.

  38. 45 Biswas from Kathmandu
    July 20, 2009 at 18:23

    People who fall in today’s category of ‘old’ are talking about renewed efforts to send a manned mission to Mars. Come on, this is twenty first century! Physically weak people can work in their computers, or in giving advices…. say…think-tank. Even if you want actual physical fitness, technology can give you, what they call, the exo-skeleton, or robotic assistance, or even things like Professor Hawking’s wheelchair. Moreover, medical researches are saving more lives every other day. So, it is definitely the time to re-evaluate what ‘old’ means, at least in part of the developed countries. It’s another thing that people in countries like india mass-reproduce and hence deserve poor life-expectancy.

  39. 46 RightPaddock
    July 20, 2009 at 18:23

    Why are there 2 consecutive topics on the same issue.

    The first headlined by the death of Britains oldest man and this, the second, headlined by the failure of a 59 American golfer to win a tournament in Scotland.

    See my post at top of this topic – https://worldhaveyoursay.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/the-age-of-age/

    It seems that the BBC-WS-en’s never loses an opportunity to gratify those on the Western shores of the North Atlantic

    @Julia in Portland, Tom in Mpls etc – I’m not American bashing, but I am BBC bashing (again). Maybe its a symptom of the approach of my 70th year on this planet.

  40. 47 Jon
    July 20, 2009 at 18:24

    As a 46 year old in the United States, I can tell you that here it is not realistic to retire at 55. It is simply too difficult to accumulate the necessary assets in the “post pension” world. I hope to live to 85 or 90, but that means I cannot realistically retire until I am 70. Unfortunately I work in IT where 50 is considered very old.

    I hope employers will adjust to the new realities of an older work force soon.

  41. 48 Sofia
    July 20, 2009 at 18:25

    Ppl who have reached legal retirement age with hard skills that can benefit an organisation should still be allowed to share their experience through mentoring or consultancy arrangements with the industries they served.

    Because ppl reach retirement does not mean that automatically they become defunct


  42. 49 tipsylife
    July 20, 2009 at 18:26

    It is good to be positive and businesses whether civil or private need to note this. Quite often a concern will chuck a man or woman out due to retirement age. What they may not know is that, they may have thrown away their corporate culture and even a valuable living library. Yes, thank you guys for reminding me of that vintage engine of ‘this weeks LETTER FROM AMERICA’. That was a real livig library and you would not have lost if you placed a bet on him. He was the epitom of aging power God bless him.

    Who is not old? Consider this, someone may have been born last night and in the morning they were gone. A one year old kid in that context is an old person.

    People should look at age as a chance to be a leader in which ever sphere of life they are. A young boy or girl should lead in class whether in kidergatten or wherever and show the rest what being alive is all about. When a stereotype tag is applied to you, it might hamper your growth and contribution to society. You might as well cultivate a negative egoism which might land you on the side road while everyone else is zooming past headed to various successes in life. This is all because you might think you have been placed on a pedestal to be worshipped; you might decay in the process.

  43. 50 steve
    July 20, 2009 at 18:26

    I used to wonder why my parents would hang out with much older people, but now in my mid 30s, I’d rather be around people in their 60s-80s than people in my age group. They just seem friendlier, nicer people, and are not all about showing off and competing.

  44. 51 Roberto
    July 20, 2009 at 18:31

    RE “” Should the age that we access public pension funds be later? “”

    ———– It’s already later for baby boomers in the US. All part of the global conspiracy to lock up seized funds for as long as possible until more boomers die off before collecting.

    When young, I saw plenty of discrimination against older employees by younger staff for no good reason and could only conclude it as some deep seated act of rebellion against parents by those too immature to have asserted themselves in their youth. As I have aged, I’ve grown to expect the slings and arrows even though physically and mentally I’m superior to most decades younger.

    The Tom Watson story was of rare magnificence, but cannot easily be duplicated. Physically most people are pretty much done in their 40s. Mentally is a different story with many young people never being up to scratch compared to those decades older, but it won’t stop the ageism that is currently in vogue in large corporations.

    Time to face facts, we’re all disposable customers in a global rat race to the bottom of the barrel. The elderly are big targets that the global credit swap derivative fraud hit particularly hard.

    Tom Watson will be revered, but the lesser everyday elderly are busy being taken to the cleaners and then hauled off to the glue factory.

  45. 52 girlgeek
    July 20, 2009 at 18:37

    I have had a long technical career. It is not so much that I have become invisible as the assumption is always that I know nothing about things technical because I am an older woman.

    Second, in this period of unemployment the PBS News Hour continually has articles on the two groups that have particular trouble finding employment, Highly qualified professionals over 40 and ex convicts. Shall we talk about ageism?

  46. 53 skip seibel
    July 20, 2009 at 18:37

    old bill got pretty boring after the first couple of minutes
    old people are boring
    i should know, i’m old

  47. July 20, 2009 at 18:39

    Older workers may be slower, they may not learn as fast, but they have knowledge which is of use to the faster, quicker-learning young workers. The young may learn faster, but who’s going to teach them? The best situation is to have old workers side-by-side with the young.

    This means you can’t force out all the old people, but you also have to make sure that the old are not keeping out the young.

  48. 55 Nathan Story
    July 20, 2009 at 18:39

    Can your guests speak to the evolutionary function of age as an honest indicator of future reproductive value (health) and differential attitudes towards men and women as a result (the popular appeal of older men compared to older women)? These trends appear to be manifest in macro cultural trends (corporate preferences, marketing, hollywood etc).

    • 56 Tom K in Mpls
      July 20, 2009 at 23:58

      As to evolution and true reproductive value, it is simple logic. There are only two generalized attributes that can apply after conception. They are a combination related to the offspring reaching an active reproductive age. They are the ability of the parents to support and teach the offspring, and the ability of the offspring to overcome on issues where the parents fail for whatever reason.

      If you want to breed a longer useful life span or extend the fertile ages, get the world to wait until they are older to have children. Very simple.

  49. July 20, 2009 at 18:39

    I lived from 50 to 65 in Jamaica, W.I., where I was treated with warmth, respect, and dignity. When I moved back to the U.S. it was like I became invisible.

  50. 58 brinda,India
    July 20, 2009 at 18:41

    It is an inspiration to listen to Bill.

    But i disagree to the comment about the quality of work.

    Experiance counts for something and would have thought somehting during the years. Unless older person is looking for a job in a different field.

    Age should not be a criteria for any kind of discrimination.

  51. July 20, 2009 at 18:41

    The essence of racism, sexism and ageism whether positive or negative, is to create stereotypes of what large groups of people are like based on the behavior and abilities of a few. Not all teens are irresponsible and not all elderly people are frail and slow to learn. We must deal with people as individuals, not as groups.

  52. 60 Beverly
    July 20, 2009 at 18:45

    I feel that it is a shame that many people have to work well past their sixties. However, I feel that it is a shame that people hold on to jobs that could allow younger people to gain experience simply so they don’t have to fell lonely. The world doesn’t stop at retirement like many people think. This is the opportunity for you to pick up on your hobbies and try other things in your life. Do you really want to work until your death so you don’t have to think of loneliness? Volunteering and spending time with family helps, if that’s an option. But in the world of employment, you have to give consideration to what would have happened if the older people now had to worry about their predecessors working well past their 70s. Their are simply too many people for one person to hold onto a job for 80 years.

  53. 61 Eva in US
    July 20, 2009 at 18:45

    I think we need to re-evaluate longevity. In the US, people live longer and longer, with the result that we spend more and more of our lives caring for parents with alzheimers and other intractable, chronic diseases.

    I can tell you that there is no pleasure in taking care of a mother who suffers from dementia. Sure, it is my chance to give back to my mother all the love she gave me. But this person is no longer my loving mother. It is a person whose brain has unwound for good, and whose body just keeps on ticking.

    What kind of hell have we created, where aging parents whose time to die has come but is thwarted by medical science? Where devoted children raised by loving parents have to spend years — decades, even — taking care of the demented, unrecognizable remains of those parents?

  54. 62 Dennis Junior
    July 20, 2009 at 18:48

    Yes, it is time to re-evaluate what “old” means…

    ~Dennis Junior~

  55. 63 nora
    July 20, 2009 at 18:48

    “You are old, father william, the young man said, and your hair is exceedingly white, and yet you continue to stand on your head, do you think at your age it is right?”

    Lewis Carroll taught me all I needed to know about aging. I was eaten alive taking care of people in their seventies and eighties who caught the sweet spot in retirement and social security here in the US. I will not have the benefit of that post war moment myself, but I continue to stand on my head and, as a dancer, challenge drummers to see who falls down from exhaustion first.

    Radio hides the wrinkles.

  56. July 20, 2009 at 18:49

    I am 67 years old. I lost my job as vice president of a pharma company 4 years ago when the company ran out of money in 2005. No one would even interview me, so I restarted a former marketing consulting business, and quickly built it into a six-figure income.

    I discovered I can outthink and outrun and outwork people half my age. I am on the leading edge of every technology, as I was in 1984 when I bought my first laptop and emailed manuscripts back to the U.S. from Europe by disassembling hotel phones and sending them back to an Apple II “server” in NY.

    I bring to my clients a deep knowledge of the world’s healthcare systems at a time ours is changing. I bring experience in radiology, infectious disease, cardiology, respiratory disease, cancer, dermatology and orthopedics – and learn how to synthesize my experiences into guidance for younger clients. I am up at 6AM, on a treadmill for an hour, and then put in a 12 hour workday.

    At 67, I’ve caught a second wind. I’ll leave the kids in the dust for at least another 5 years.

    Retire? Perish the thought!

  57. July 20, 2009 at 18:51

    Gregg Harris, Gresham, Oregon, USA, age 56

    The essence of racism, sexism and ageism whether positive or negative, is to create stereotypes of what large groups of people are like based on the behavior and abilities of a few. Not all teens are irresponsible and not all elderly people are frail and slow to learn. We must deal with people as individuals, not as groups.

    Retirement is not an issue for those who start business of their own ad employ others. The elderly should become more entreprenurial in their later years.

  58. 66 Ralph
    July 20, 2009 at 18:52

    I recently heard someone say:”We used to have elders; now we have the elderly”.
    Since the 1960s, mass marketing has been aimed at newly-cashed-up teenagers for the first time in history, with fashion and excitement identified with them. They are cheap and easy to indoctrinate and please.
    Incidentally, it is often thoughtlessly said :”we are all living longer”. (Longer than ourselves – or who then?) First, don’t tell that to children dying in hospitals and of starvation, or the relatives of young dying in wars!
    The fact is that THE AVERAGE lifespan is gradually increasing – but not everywhere. Two hundred years ago there was much child and childbirth mortality, and devastating epidemics; these brought the life-expectancy average right down. Modern medicine has reduced infant mortality and most epidemics(mostly caused by animal farming), and thus the average span has increased.
    Remember that some three thousand years ago, it was written in the Old Testament that a normal human lifespan was “three score and ten” (70) years!

  59. July 20, 2009 at 18:53

    Who can retire in late stage capitalism. Those who were using their houses to save, have had them devalued. Few can accumulate sufficient savings to stop working, as they live on the treadmill of the consumerist marketed society.
    In the modern labor marketplace, jobs are being segmented into that which anyone can do if they can physically endure it (repetitive stress injuries abound), and that which requires a narrower and more specific set of skills/knowledge. God help those with a broad education rather than a technical degree, or even worse moral standards in this corporatist culture..

  60. 68 nora
    July 20, 2009 at 19:02

    Cheers to Lucas, the four day workweek guy. We would all feel younger. We thought we could pull it off in the seventies, but alas the age of Reaganomics.

    And to the folks who mentioned poverty, thank you. Either young or old can be weak and bewildered on an empty stomach.

  61. 69 Keith
    July 20, 2009 at 19:05

    John in Salem-
    We won’t double or triple the current average human life span. Through medical breakthroughs we have learned to control the leading causes of medical death- infection, and virulent diseases like polio, smallpox, etc. This has substantially increased our lifespans.

    However, whoever thinks the human life span is only limited by our medical technology is kidding themselves. When a person hits a certain age, if they are lucky enough to avoid cancer, heart disease, or general failure of organs, they may not be lucky enough to avoid Alzheimer’s or another such debilitating disease. At a certain point, the human body just begins to not function any more.

    I am quite interested, however, in seeing observing the effects of several dietary advancements. Substances like antioxidants, live active cultures (yogurt) and omega-3 fatty acids, etc., have been suspected of having certain benefits to humans but are difficult to test in a controlled environment. Widespread consumption of such potentially beneficial substances, as well as widespread consumption of multivitamins, may well increase the human lifespan.

  62. 70 tipsylife
    July 20, 2009 at 19:07

    You need an older person or two in a house. In fact the more the better. I choose to view Ros as the grandfather of that WHYS HOUSE. Kruppa is the grandmother of the house. And Mark? Well, the fussing great-grandfather in the compound; always fussing about the behavior of the young generation – ‘get that out!’ stuff. Sometimes it gets too hot and he has to rush for a cup of tea but everything is ok and getting even better now that we expecting democracy to have a bigger stake with the ‘watch dog’; don’t you know!. Is a place run better than that house? I knew them when I was Arthur Njuguna, a decade ago. Now I am older and wiser; thats why I became tipsylife. I know most of you must be thinking, ‘Hey, this one is a new duckling in our pond … when did he get in here?’. On the contrally, we have been swimming together. Hey, if you want to feel young, my advice? Stay away from the grog though a litle is not bad when you cannot help it and have nowhere to drive. Seriously though, this is no fantasy. GOODNIGHT

  63. 71 RightPaddock
    July 20, 2009 at 19:51

    I’m old enough to have been able amass my retirement funds in the “good times” and smart enough to invest it judiciously. But I had no illusions that I’d enjoy the same lifestyle once I retired, e.g. no luxury 6 week holidays every couple of years.

    Now I spend 35 hours a week as a volunteer, write a bit of open source software, read the books I always meant to read and listen to the music to which I always meant to listen. Body’s a bit broken (heart & lung surgery) but the brain’s still functioning despite a couple of mild strokes.

    Folks who know me say I’m happier these days, which is true. In part it’s because my partner & I went our separate ways, she to a Buddhist community, me into my minimalist apartment, however we remain good friends. I seem to be an exception to the “rule” that older men can’t live alone. I get a bit grumpy when I’m asked “but aren’t you lonely”, something a woman, or a man in his twenties probably wouldn’t be asked.

  64. 72 Assiya
    July 20, 2009 at 20:38

    Honestly, you guys have nothing else to talk about?

  65. 73 Jennifer
    July 20, 2009 at 21:04

    We have a tendency to think that people that are older than us are “old”. I think everyone older than me is “old”. Then again, I look at those close to me and I do believe that you are only as old as you feel! 🙂

  66. 74 Thomas Murray
    July 20, 2009 at 21:43

    Alas, age is a double standard. Especially between men and women.

    My sister, the actress, once complained that there are no screenplays wirtten for frumpy middle-aged women any more. She’s part right.

    For every Kathy Bates, there are three John Goodmans who will be working well into their twilight years. (They’re 58 & 56, hardly ready for the old folks home; still a year older than I.) And Roger Moore (okay, Sir Roger Moore) was 58 when he made his last James Bond flick.

    To say that show biz is sexest is an understatement. Hollywood has a rep for eating it’s own young, only to abandon them in the snowdrift behind the migrating tribe at the first sign of a wrinkle.

    On the other hand, writers should take heed that age-ial, as well as cultural diversity, can give a much needed beat to their narrative. And remember, “Harold and Maude” is still a cult film.

    And I didn’t mean to imply that Kathy Bates is frumpy– she’s a fine looking woman with a nice smile — she’s just good at playing it.

    (Is age-ial a real word?)

    –Still Without a Phone in Louisville, Kenticky, US.

  67. 75 Penny in Miami
    July 20, 2009 at 23:32

    I’ve been saying for at least a decade that middle age begins at 65. Since I’ve reached my mid 50s, I’ve revised it; middle age now begins at 75.

  68. 76 Halima Brewer
    July 21, 2009 at 07:10

    Life expectancy has increased but so has the possibility of living for years with debilitating or degenerative conditions. I do not fear death in old age, but I do fear living a long time in a state where I am constantly in need of the help of others for daily needs, or the loss of my mental capacities. We need research into these things. – though we know keeping fit is essential – we need to learn more about these things.

  69. July 21, 2009 at 07:15

    That’s nothing considering the game he is playing.
    My church pastor was 55 when he represented my country in polo and he won a silver medal.
    I don’t think Tom Watson can ride a horse while jostling with other men a fraction of his age.

  70. 78 Vijay K Pillai
    July 22, 2009 at 06:55

    Old of the old view no longer applies as far as i am concrened. I have always amazed at my late grand father’s state of mind more than 2 decades ago when he was 93. not surprisingly world renowned mathematicans and engineers were ative in their nineties.I was able do that 100 questions on addtions,multiplivcations and subractions within 59 seconds in 2007 and when i gave the answers to be correced by a younger engineer,he took more than 2 minutes and amazed saying i must have a computer’s speed. I used to do that 30 second advaned numerical questions which appear on dailymail as hobby and i gave that to a ist year a/l studentnwho was very good in maths ,gave up saying she can’t do it. What is the secret? I was brilliant in maths all my life from young as 5 years old and my belief is that if i dont practice ,i lose it and i thrive on keeping mentally fit and the body as well. One is youn as his heart the saying goes but i would add, one is young as his mind’s skills as well.I also happened to be few persons able to sing 5000 year old 1000 hindu sanskrit hymms within 20 minutes at 60.

  71. July 25, 2009 at 12:04

    I consider golf to be an old person’s game anyway. So Monsieur Watson’s “achievement” does not as they say in US “cut any slack” with me. Talk about say your Francis Chichester who sailed round the world in the 1960’s. Literally, “The Old Man Of The Sea” or Jacques Cousteau oldster skin diver and marine biologist. You know, humans define their age in terms of old. No one says 21 years young for example. We are all old. The trick is to maintain your brain to take the strain to achieve an ever-higher plain.

  72. 80 Listener
    July 26, 2009 at 01:07

    “Old” means you see the train coming by and you are not eager to jump on anymore.

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