Challenge your assumptions about ‘older people’

I have an aspiring writing-school-trained author keen to be published on my blog for families with older relatives and friends.

She’s written three pieces now, and I’m still failing to disabuse her of the idea that we all develop dementia the moment we retire.

It’s a shame, because I’m weary of editing her articles to be less blatantly ageist, which means I’m going to say no to more.

This type of actually quite offensive assumption is happening everywhere.

Today there was a GP on the radio suggesting that over 55s can’t use apps. But many of these old codgers have been working with IT from the days when it was called data processing, and it was a lot harder to use back then.

I recognise that people want to categorise and pigeonhole their potential audiences. But so many people are getting it so badly wrong with ‘older people’.

For one thing, we can easily fit two generations of people into this category. The under 70s may well be supporting relatives in their 80s and 90s.

My advice, just based on today’s irritations is to avoid:

  • Considering everyone reaching retirement age to be on a rapid downhill path into senility
  • Thinking that retired people can’t learn new stuff – although they might need to be convinced as to why they should bother
  • Putting one big bracket around everyone from 55 (or thereabouts) and 105, and believing they all have the same needs and aspirations
  • Believing they are all hard-nosed Brexiteers, any more than any other age group
  • Using the word ‘elderly’ more than once in a piece – and then only if your SEO insists

And that is just what’s been frustrating on the radio and in my inbox early on Monday morning. I’ll be back with more no doubt.

Photo by Anna Shvets on