80 is the new 80!
Ask yourself: why are we so afraid of saying "great" or some other non age-related comment when someone says they are 80?
Why do we feel the need to say: "Wow you don't look your age."
Sometimes I think I've become one of those stereotypical cranky senior citizens* because I just really hate when I hear phrases like "80 is the new 60."
[*Except that I have been talking about this - well - since a long long time ago!]
I also dislike this one: "Wow - you're 75? You look so much younger."
And then we have those questions and statements online and in the media about how much more desirable it is to look younger than one's age, or see/hear the stereotypes we have of "old" people - i.e. those over 50!
- I have had many of these thoughts since I was in my 20s, or 30s because my field is Developmental Psychology.
- I have been talking about aging since I was in my 20s.
- I have been teaching about aging and all of lifespan human development since then as well - in my 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and into my 70s.
- And I'll probably still be talking and teaching and writing about it as I move in my 80s, 90s, and over 100.
- Maybe by 150 I'll change my tune about what I say but for now all I keep saying is:
When you tell people they don't look their age - you are being sexist and ageist!
Sexist? Why? Because we rarely say this to men. We tend only to make statements about looks and age to women - and women over 40ish.
Ageist? Why? Stop and ask yourself why you are saying this and ask what are your ideas of a 60, 70, 80-year-old person?
You must have some serious ideas of "80-year-oldness" that do not match the 80-year-old you are facing.
What are our ideas about aging - and where do they come from?
TV shows over the years have generally mocked older people, showing them as silly, forgetful, in need of medications, in wheelchairs, sitting around doing nothing "important" or carping at neighbors, especially neighborhood kids. "Hey kid! Get off my lawn" is a classic example of what "old" people say.
We seem never to be happy with a person's "real" or biological age. We tell young children, wow you look older because we think kids want to seem older.
You're 4? WOW you look at least 5 [or 6] and they giggle.
No wonder few are happy with their age - or anyone else's. We start telling young kids they don't look their age and we continue this line of statements until death!
And the media perpetuates the idea that youth and looking youthful is the epitome of coolness - women in TV media often start getting plastic surgery as they age. Younger and younger girls, boys, men and women are getting plastic surgery of all sorts to look more "attractive." And get more attention, and/or more "dates."
Why can't we accept that we look our actual ages?
We are living longer, or least least we were living longer. [Our lifespans are now decreasing due to increased drug overdoses and suicide. This newer sad trend is lowering the average length we live.] But for those not impacted by those current issues, life is longer. We have healthy humans living and thriving into their 80's, 90's, and even well over 100!
Instead of celebrating the biological age of these people, we get headlines about how young they look "for their age."
And we "celebrate" youthfulness [whatever that concept is] through clothing, make up, hair styles, lifestyles, and more.....We don't "celebrate" aging and development in the same ways. Just take a look at current ads for most anything - even if they don't come out and say "youth" - the actors are all youthful - just to give you the idea that the "product" will make you look and act the same.
What I do to help people age in a more healthy way
and hopefully combat ageism....
I've been trying to finish up this post for a long time, too long ... but I have so much to say as I usually do...I've also been saying that I want to create a course on aging, and i've been saying that for a long item as well....
To make a long post shorter than it could be, and to stop overthinking the aging course - I AM taking a lot what I'd say here, and putting it there. The course will have me on video and I can then talk about these topics like I would in person!!
The aging course!!
Since I am in the field of human development [Ph.D. and all] I offer information about healthy aging, from my point of view and from research.
AND - after much procrastination, I am currently developing a course about healthy aging.
The working title of the course is: Aging: it beats the alternative.....
I have a quirky sense of humor so if you're not liking my humor you're probably not going want to take my courses. I have fun when I teach because people learn better when they enjoy what they're doing, when they giggle, laugh, and have fun while learning.
I've been like that since I got out of college and I first started teaching. Of course in those days I taught kindergarten - but even when later teaching college or teaching skiing my mantra has been have fun when you're learning and have fun when you're teaching.
And I love to play with images, graphics, and all things digital.....who only wants words when you can have more?
While you are still thinking about all this,
please please please let the 80-year-old be 80!
And the 70-year-old be 70! And so on...thank you!!
Fo more information about aging, see the course basic info page and sign up there for more info: