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So many countries are aware of the fact that their populations are ageing and that this is likely to be expensive, but go no further.

I was made aware of this by Underhill in his book ‘Why we buy’. There is general talk of the baby boomers being different but there seems to be little definition of how different. Underhill details this difference. He says that ”They came of age during the fat, self-indulgent ’50s, ’60s and ’70s”. Among other points he makes is that they didn’t absorb ‘the quaint notion that to be old is to accept infirmity and inability stoically, as one’s lot in life’.

After reading his comments I felt much more hopeful that my research results, that the post retirement, later stage of life can be just as productive as the earlier stages, are likely to be accepted by this newly emerging group of older people.  I argue that this later stage is a wonderful opportunity to find your true self, your hidden and latent talents. It is a time when most older people are much freer of commitments than they were in previous stages- for many the kids are off their hands and the mortgage is paid for. There is time and money freedom so why not use the time to follow old dreams which disappeared under those commitments- or find new ones!

I was much younger than my fellow students in high school and got laughed at for still drawing stick figures. I assumed I was useless at art. Now I can’t wait to see if this was really true. I’ve got loads of books on the subject (I hope they really are for dummies!) and my kids gave me the necessary pencils and paints for Christmas. As soon as I’ve handed in my thesis (currently at the editing stage) I want to start being an artist- after I’ve turned my thesis into a book and painted my neglected house! There are so many opportunities when you are older! A lot of older people take up painting and find they are quite good at it I hope I join them! One of my older friends has decided to learn to play the cello so we decided she would play at my first art exhibition! Such stuff as dreams are made of!

I get upset when I meet an older person and ask them what they do and they say “I’m busy”. If you push further to ask what they are doing they say “I’m just so busy”. I always assume that they are being busy just filling in time with as many things as they can- appointments, lunches etc- but have no purpose in their lives. Those who do have a purpose are usually quite eager to tell you about it. This is important as it seems to be widely accepted that our brain cells die as we age and we need to build new connectors between those that are left. We can do this by being involved in something interesting, exciting and productive, finding the talented side of ourselves. Yunus, author of  ‘Banker to the Poor’ reckons that all human beings have the potential to be entrepreneurs, and he works with the poorest of the poor. How much more chance have the rest of us not so disadvantaged to find our entrepreneurial selves.

As individuals we need to look to our futures as older people as being a time to find our talented selves. Governments also need to find an environment to facilitate this. Older people have so much to offer and we need to be given the chance, and to live in an environment in which this can happen.

Last week we celebrated Australia Day- the day white men landed in Australia and took over. We are often reminded that there was no bloody coup but this is not true. Many Aboriginals were murdered but it happened gradually as the invaders spread across the country.
Many Aboriginals refer to it as Invasion Day.
Aboriginal Health and education levels are well below that of the non-Aboriginal population. Our solution is to send in the military even though it is a sociological problem. It doesn’t work and we are condemned by the UN but as most white people are doing quite well we just pretend not to have heard the criticism. The problem is that governments from both parts of the political spectrum take the same approach so the deadlock is hard to break.
In an interview last year for my thesis I spoke with the Australian of the Year, himself an Aboriginal person. We discussed the three ‘isms’, racialism. sexism and ageism. He said that racialism was worse at it displaced people from their lands and they had to start again, with nothing, on inferior land.
With the UN being ignored, it is hard to see what individuals can do.