I hear a lot about ageism, and I understand the concept. Ageism is thinking, feeling, or acting negatively toward someone based on age. But I think there is an aspect of ageism that we don’t always consider, and that is feeling negatively about ourselves based on age!
The World Health Organization actually defines ageism as “the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or ourselves based on age” (emphasis mine.) I think we commonly think of ageism as being toward other people, but it can just as easily turn in on ourselves.
I’m reading a book, From Strength to Strength, by Albert Brooks, that debunks the ideas that older people do not have as much to give as younger people. (He told a funny story about asking a young man in the tech industry if they had thought of hiring to improve age diversity. The puzzled young man said, “You mean someone over thirty?”) Of course, it’s all about perspective. My perspective is that thirty is very young!
I’m enjoying this book because I agree with him! His research backs up what I truly believe: older people have much to give to both their peers and those who are younger. I certainly accept the physical limitations that come with aging, but “I’m not going to just sit back and roll over,” as my grandmother used to say. And she didn’t. She stayed active and productive until she died at age 97. (In fact, when her daughter made her sell her home when she was 88, she resented not still having her garden and her sewing machine and quilting frames.)
I really enjoy so many things that I don’t understand people who are bored or even sedentary in retirement. I don’t have time to do everything I’d like to do. I think of someone I’d like to know better and then can’t figure out a time to get together with them. In November, we met a new couple and she and I had lunch a couple of weeks later. Then it was February before we had time to have them over for dinner.
I have confidence that God will guide this last fourth of my life. Recently, the Bible study I have on Tuesday evenings with three young women has been studying Isaiah. In Isaiah 46:4, God says, “Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will carry you! I have done it, and I will bear you; And I will carry you and I will save you.”
I love my life now, even with the various aches and pains that come with age. I do not want to think less of myself because of my age. I’ve learned a lot since I was born in 1945! (You can do the math…) I know I still have a lot to give to my family and others.
A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 16:31