Valuing Ageing

There is a lot of bad press about ageing.

Everywhere we look, we are told to purchase ‘anti-ageing’ products. Many newspapers feature stories about the problems of ageing, and of an ageing society. Trying to buy a birthday card for someone over 50 that doesn’t include anti-ageing jokes can be a real challenge.

We want to encourage everyone who is ageing – that is, most of us – to feel valued as they age. This can start by reminding ourselves that ageing is normal. It can continue by challenging ourselves and others not to put up with negative jokes or stereotypes about what it means to age. Author Lewis Richmond talks about the ‘lightning bolt’ moment when you realise that YOU are ageing. This can happen at all sorts of times, and all sorts of ages. It’s not really about the numbers.

Ageing does have lots of implications for our lives – and opportunities, including the way we deal with the challenges. Let’s not pretend it’s business as usual. There is a growing movement to accept and even embrace ageing – we encourage you look around for the approach that best works for you.  You are welcome to sign up to our Facebook page where we post information related to the inner terrain of ageing, or the See Me Know Me quarterly newsletter.  In the mean time, you might like to use our Conversation-starters and Thought-starters to begin to explore and express some who you are, whatever your life stage. Many people tell us that our See Me Know Me campaign is encouraging them to feel more valued. Perhaps have a look over the posters and think about people you know, and what matters to them.

You might be interested in our latest project: The Map of Meaning and Ageing: a self-reflection guide. Read more here. Order your copy here.


Community Survey

In 2019, we commissioned a Community Survey and over 1000 people over 65 from across Australia participated.

When exploring Who or what are your greatest sources of hope? the top responses chosen from a list of 16 items were:

  1. Being with people who care
  2. Children
  3. Grandchildren
  4. Nature: sunrise/sunset, gardening, seasons
  5. Feeling I can make a contribution

When we asked,

Your identity is closely related to what is most important in your life: your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, traditions, culture and experiences. When thinking of time spent with your closest family or friends, how well do they understand your identity?

Responses were:

58.2% I feel heard and understood most of the time.

29.6% I feel heard and understood from time to time.

8% I rarely feel heard and understood.

4.2% I never feel heard and understood.

37% of people had no fear of ageing. However, 77% were not looking forward to it.

When thinking about the good things to do with ageing, people’s top responses were:

  • I will have more time to do what I love
  • I will have more time for my family
  • I will be less worried about what people think of me

On the reverse side, when thinking about their concerns about ageing, the most common responses were:

  • Not being about to do the things I love
  • Loss of freedom
  • Being a burden on my family

When asked:

Whether you answered with “Yes” or “No” to the previous question, we’d like to invite you to consider the positive elements to ageing. Take a moment to read through the following list and tick all that apply to you. “I am looking forward to growing older, because…” the top items chosen were:

  1. I will have more time to do what I love
  2. I will have more time for my family
  3. I will be less worried about what people think of me
  4. I will know what my priorities in life are
  5. I will travel more
  6. I can try new things
  7. I will have more time for friends
  8. I will express myself more openly

When considering a possible need for aged care by a loved one, the main concerns were “Not knowing the best questions to ask to choose a service” and “Not feeling truly heard”. The first response hints at a sense of the complexity of the process and decision.

You might be interested in The Map of Meaning and Ageing, which helps to address some of these needs and concerns. Read more here. You might like to order a copy here.

Map of Meaning and Ageing: a self-reflection guide

Our latest project is a way to address some of the challenges we heard about when we spoke with people over 65.

We worked with a group of older people to develop this fabulous book, and used crowdfunding to meet some of the initial costs.

Below are some images from the prototype.

You can order copies now here.