The new old people are no longer those of 20 years ago. Now the baby boomer generation (the baby boomers of the 50s and 60s) is retiring and lifestyles are changing visibly. This means noticeable change for older people – but it has not arrived everywhere. According to a recent representative study commissioned by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, negative opinions about older people are apparently widespread, especially among younger generations in Germany. The Corona years seem to have reinforced this.
The problem: negative images of old age can downright paralyse older people, both physically and mentally. Positive ones, on the other hand, inspire. There are studies that say that people with a positive attitude towards old age live almost eight years longer than others.
We need positive role models in all areas: In politics, in volunteering, in culture, in work … role models like Nancy Pelosi, for example, who at 78 took over as Speaker of the House of Representatives, the third highest office in the state. The actress Jane Fonda would like to see more sex scenes in films with older people. There are the granfluencers who are discovered by their grandchildren … We are colourful and diverse and we don’t want to be invisible in old age, we want to be seen and heard.
When is one old anyway? In Germany, younger people on average think that people over 61 are old. The self-assessment of older people is on average much higher, at a good 69. In a European comparison, 63-year-olds were considered old on average.
Isn’t it much more important: How do I grow old? What will I do with the years I have gained from living longer, how do I want to live?
In Hamburg there was an exciting discussion about old and new images of old age. The video documents the first half hour of the panel discussion, including our board member Christa Möller-Metzger, senior policy spokeswoman for the Greens in the Hamburg Parliament. Language: German.