I am not sure when this dilemma began, but it appears to me that there has been a growing disregard for those of us who are over 60, being considered outdated, often useless and even unwanted as we age. We, as senior citizens, have even bought into this cultural phenomenon!
This blog is to remind us all that we not only have tremendous value but also that our younger generations are missing out on years of experience, development of wisdom and differing views. This does not mean that we have all of the right answers. What we provide is another perspective that can give input to our younger community in their decision making.
I personally love these “elder” years because I see things in a different light, a calmer, more peaceful and often more focused light than I did when I was younger. I could lament that I wasn’t the best mother or I could use what I have learned to be the best grandmother and, if asked, be a counselor to those now parenting.
As a business owner for 30 years, I can share some of the pitfalls and ways to avoid them with younger, newer entrepreneurs. In both areas, people have asked me and we have had many conversations that I have been told have enhanced their lives and businesses.
So the question is, how do we come out of the closet and say to the many who have ignored us, “I am here! I have valuable information to share, ideas & perspectives that might change the directions our society is taking”?
We “Throwaways” have been pushed out of jobs, often in the name of cost cutting, and left companies devoid of experience and the wisdom that has come with it. The average CEO in the US is just over 45 with only 3 years at a given company – do you think they are missing out on valuable expertise that comes with historical knowledge? In European countries, on the other hand, the average CEO’s is over 50 and has been with their company over 30 years.
Families, now further apart, often look at their parents as obsolete or having suddenly gone “stupid” with minimal value to offer. While they have no patience for us, perhaps we can teach them that patience is a virtue that took us years to acquire.
Usually, grandparents are more revered by their grandchildren because they give them individual attention and show more patience. Our children may still be stuck in remembering our foibles when we were 20-30 years younger. Perhaps we elders have learned from our experiences and can now offer some valuable viepoints, but we may never be given the chance.
We have so much more to give and share, as well as, receive. Let’s stand up for our “Throwaways” and repurpose ourselves into mentors for the future, contributing to greater, more engaged communities and families. Some ideas you might consider to keep us from falling into the stereotype of “old people”:
- Learn or relearn a skill you like and do it with a grandchild – for me it is sharing with my granddaughter a new dance video with “hip hop” routines.
- Volunteer to be a reader at an elementary school or tutor at a middle or high school.
- Take interesting classes at the local community college – most offer classes for either $0 or at a very reduced rate.
- Write articles or blogs about subjects you have knowledge. Learn how to publish them on Social Media or get a young family member to do it for you!!
For those of you younger, how about giving us more than a “moment of your time”,or a brief text. You will one day be an “elder” too, and have much to offer those younger. Don’t wait until then to realize what you have missed along the way.
I present this as food for thought, with the request of all who read this to share ideas on how to create a more inclusive community of all ages with the concept of collaboration and cooperation where we all learn from each other.