EngAgeNet launches a template for a more positive view of ageing

EngAgeNet has launched a revised and updated “New Narrative on Ageing” which aims to provide a template for a more positive view of ageing.

Through this narrative we hope that the contribution made by older people and their value to society will become better understood.

Not only is it a necessary attempt to change deeply embedded social attitudes and influence policy, but it aims to help older people themselves become more confident about their own personal ageing journey and their place in society.  Across all generations we need to recognise that a debate on ageing is also a debate about our own futures and to consider how we all prepare well for longer and more valued lives.

Why do we need a new narrative?

The demographic time bomb – it’s an all too familiar story: the notion that an ageing society is a major social and economic threat.  In this story older people are seen as dependent on working age people, make no contribution to and have little value in society.

Negative portrayals of older people are commonplace: the media is largely preoccupied with the assumed cost of ageing, reinforcing a view that older people are dead weight in society – non-productive beneficiaries of state largesse; at the same time, however, they are perceived as well off, and in the eyes of some social commentators responsible for both the housing crisis and youth unemployment.

Like any group outside the social mainstream, older people are routinely stereotyped and are the subject of many false assumptions and untruths.

Why does it matter?

How older people are perceived and the assumptions made about them are bound to influence society’s response to ageing.

Negative perceptions result in older people being ‘compartmentalised’ and regarded as having little value. Continuing to see ageing as a social problem, the old narrative, gets in the way of creating the kind of change that would benefit people of all generations.

What do we want a new narrative to do?

Our new narrative needs to speak to all generations.  Ageing is the FUTURE for us all, yet we tend to fear it, much as in past times what was not known was feared, and sometimes persecuted.

Dispelling the myths, exposing the untruths, creating a more balanced portrayal of ageing as part of life, will enable people to have a more hopeful view of their own ‘future ageing’, and hence to be more appreciative of older people generally. We need a more enlightened view of ageing, so that through a less fearful perspective, people will think about their own future, how they might want that to look, and hence what might need to change right now.

Who needs to listen?

This new narrative needs to be heard by all organisations and institutions whose decisions and actions affect people in later life: government, business, social commentators and the media in general.

You can read and download the new narrative by clicking here:A New Narrative on Ageing ePDF2Final

Posted by Tony Watts