Shades of white

by Catherine Rickwood

White is white.

Until you try to choose white paint.

If you’ve ever tried to choose white paint you’ll know just how tricky it is to choose the shade of white you’d like to paint a room or a house.

Ageing is the same.  Here’s why.

Like white paint, there is more than one way to age. My way won’t be the same as yours.

Participating in the Masters Games, U3A or caring for grandchildren doesn’t suit everyone.

Some people can’t wait to finish work, to start taking cruises, undertake adventure travel, or hitch up a caravan and do a lap of Australia. Others simply don’t want to finish work. At least not completely. And there are others who don’t have any clarity about what they want to do.

My observations of people over 50 is that the diversity in how they are ageing is as great as the choices available for white paint.

Deciding what’s right for us is not straightforward. How far in advance are we thinking and planning? Until we’re 80 or 85, or until we die? What are our choices?

Many people say that they don’t want to age in the same way that their parents or grandparents aged.

We are innovating how we become older.

So what do we need to consider?


 1. Purpose & Meaning.

An essential aspect of being able to age healthily and positively is having a reason to get up each day, other than to get dressed, have breakfast, watch television, and go to doctors appointments.

2.   Housing.

The government is encouraging us all to age place.  I like the idea of ageing in place. As I’ve said before, I don’t see myself in seniors lifestyle living or a retirement village. I also know that if I want to stay at home I must consider its suitability for my possible changing physical and cognitive abilities.

Recently I attended the Leading Age Services Australia Conference. Big change is afoot. It’s challenging for the industry and good for us. Amongst many others, I met and spoke with architects who are committed to designing and creating spaces and places that appeal to us. I’m optimistic and excited about what possibilities are being considered and created.

Retirement villages, aged care facilities, and seniors living are all being reinvented and innovated. 

3.   Community.

Thinking about how to engage with community is essential – whether that be through voluntary or paid work and/or activities such as community gardens, book clubs and book launches, language classes, gallery events, or study.

Being connected in community is crucial to ageing healthily and happily.

4.   Health.

Be practical and realistic.

Physical exercise and diet make an enormous difference to how we age.

Physical exercise is crucial, and is one of the ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Also considering proximity to medical, hospital and home-care services makes ageing at home easier and more practical.

5.   Technology

Advancements in technology are exciting and increasingly accessible making it easier for us to ‘age in place’. Anecdotally, technology is also providing better patient outcomes, service quality and staff satisfaction in aged care facilities. The products I’ve seen are easy to use and/or install which makes it useable for everyone.

Ultimately, some of the technology that’s being developed provides opportunity for greater freedom and independence. 


Most importantly, as a 78 year old said to me recently, “don’t be afraid”.  A lively, active woman with some health challenges who still lives independently in her own apartment, she has discovered that becoming older is a wonderful and interesting journey.

What’s your journey going to be? What’s your shade of white? Curious to know.





Click here to subscribe

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