It's time to challenge common misconceptions about ageing. It's often thought that the first twenty years or so of a person's life represent the period in which they learn and develop skills and experience. The next few decades are spent implementing these skills in the fields of work and family life. After that, all that remains is 'retirement.' This is a phase of life in which no new skills are learned and no new experiences are lived. The fate of 'the elderly' is styled as little more than a departure lounge where people who can no longer play an active role in society simply wait to shrug off this mortal coil.
Not only is this viewpoint rather bleak, it is also very inaccurate. Many people do not see the third age of life as a model of decline. Rather, it is an age of unparalleled opportunity, development and satisfaction. It's time that this was better known and that we altered our perception of senior citizens. It's time to regard ageing more realistically, as a natural and positive phase of life.
For many senior citizens who take a positive approach to ageing, the so-called retirement years are far from retiring! This stage of living can be seen and lived as an opportunity to fulfil lifelong passions such as travelling, practising music, art and even starting new careers or courses of study. More than ever before, we are reaching our retirement in a state of fitness, health and vitality. Many now view this time as the golden age in which the accumulated wisdom and experience of a lifetime can be used to enrich an active and profound appreciation of each day.
With the responsibilities of work and family taken off our shoulders, we are free as never before to pursue new goals, develop new skills and make a fresh mark on the world. Most senior citizens find they have time, their health and a secure financial situation. The mortgage has been repaid, the children are independent and it is time to reap the rewards of all the efforts of the past. Despite the commonly held view, many studies and interviews with senior citizens report them as being among the happiest, active and satisfied members of society.
There are many traditional cultures around the world in which 'the elders' are highly regarded and respected for their wisdom, learning and experience. That may be something we have lost to some extent. However, that situation is likely to change. There is a whole new generation of senior citizens who are fit, healthy, mentally and socially active people empowered by a positive outlook, financial security and time-abundance. This exciting new generation of senior citizens are, in many ways, in the prime of their lives. They are now and certainly will be in the future, a force to be reckoned with.
So let's put the old myths of ageing as decline behind us and embrace the reality that the 'third age' can be a deeply rewarding, active and positive period to be embraced and enjoyed to the full.