Old or older. Which are you?

by Catherine Rickwood

Today I’m a little older than yesterday.  Tomorrow I’ll be a little older than I am today.  In 10 years I’ll be a bit older again, and 20 years hence, older again.  Will I be old?  Not if I can help it.  Will life be different?  Yes.  Will life be slightly different to the one I had in my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s or 50’s. Definitely. And guess what? That’s OK. Let’s face it, we all get older, from the day we are born. The question is: When do we become old vs becoming older?

I don’t believe there’s an age at which being old occurs. It’s an attitude. It’s a belief. It’s a set of behaviours that limits our physical, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing. That could occur in our 50’s, 60’s, 70′, 80’s, 90’s or not at all.

How many people do you know that seem old at 60? Yet we often also know older people who are inspiring because of how they’re ageing in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Eileen Kramer (101 years of age) is one. Sir David Attenborough (89 years of age) another. Dame Judi Dench (81 years of age) another.

We become old when we start thinking and saying that “I’m too old to do x” (with x being anything from skiing to dancing to swimming or learning a new language). When television becomes the centre of our universe I believe we become old. When we stop engaging in social activities and participating in community events we become isolated and old. When we stop exercising, whether that be a gentle walk or yoga, our bodies become creaky and less flexible and we have an excuse to be ‘old’. I’m not suggesting we need to do ultra marathons (although Cliff Young a farmer and untrained as a runner, ran the 875km (543.7 miles) from Sydney to Melbourne when he was 61 years of age), or take up a vigorous style of yoga. Anything that moves our body is beneficial.

Becoming older not old means accepting that our bodies change and we do things differently to when we were younger. We might move more slowly. We might use a walking stick. Enjoy the pace. Enjoy the difference.

Becoming older means more regular health checks. Being old means having a life that centres around medical appointments. Of course sometimes we have health conditions that mean we do need to see various doctors and specialists more than we’d like. Make the visits a side event, not the main show and the focus of your life and diary.

Becoming older means embracing life, being enthusiastic and engaged with the now, whilst also believing that life continues to be great and gets better with each passing year. No matter what. Being old is just getting through the day in the hope that there won’t be too many aches and pains and life is basically not bad and I’m essentially happy, but there’s no real joy or excitement.

I’m loving becoming older. Are you?

Are you old or simply becoming older? What do you do?


About the Author

Catherine Rickwood

An experienced researcher and business executive, Catherine's work is informed by academic knowledge and evidence to deliver practical actions with measurable outcomes. These combined skills create a powerful and useful ability to delve deep on issues, ask incisive questions, think laterally, and bring knowledge and insights to individuals, a team, and an organisation keen to engage with, and include the over 50's as a valuable part of their business strategy.

Catherine Rickwood is solutions-focussed, working with innovative organisations keen to improve customer and employee insights and empathy to increase their success in new markets, build loyalty, and increase innovation. She does this using a co-design process that engages employees and key stakeholders to create collaborative solutions. Contact Catherine to discover how her services can support your organisation to harness the changing demographic reality.

Over 50's Customer Insights Tool
Free Insight Tool

Curious? Here’s how to start a conversation about ageing.

Download this simple to use tool to reveal [un]conscious age-based bias and assumptions.

Pin It on Pinterest