seniorlife | Experience is actually a GOOD THING

Story by Jody Sanderson

Summer 2023

The mug shot accompanying my byline for this article was taken a couple of years ago, during the pandemic, as part of a promotion for a play I was directing, via Zoom.

No word of a lie! Theatre in seclusion.

Not a bad pic, if I do say so myself. Since then, however, I have let the natural white and grey emerge, only changing the colour when the Blue Jays are in spring training. Now that we’re in regular season ball, it’s back to the combination. What a difference a box of hair dye makes!

A few weeks ago, I was waiting for a sales associate in a busy box store, who must have thought that, as a senior, I had all the time in the world, because he kept telling me he’d be right with me after he helped another family, a young woman and another staff member.

I had to wave my hand in front of my face to make sure I was still there.

I’m always looking for freelance opportunities, or contract work. My experience and ability used to be my greatest assets. No more. If I do get an interview, the conversation centres not on what stories I’ve covered, but when I covered them – focusing on my age without actually asking me.

So, I threw it out to social media friends and acquaintances to see if it’s just me.

It’s not. It’s a real thing. And it’s called ageism: a prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s age.

Mandatory retirement ended in Canada in 2011. In 2022, 74 per cent of the respondents to a Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) survey said, even though they’re not forcing us to retire anymore,  it’s still a problem. A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found one in three seniors are economically insecure. In both Canada and the U.S., suicides by 45-64 year old men are skyrocketing. We all know how disposable seniors became during Covid19.

It could all be very depressing, except, collectively, Canadians in particular are fighting back.

The film Golden: The End of Ageism was released in 2021, is an International Film Festival award-winning documentary. Very enlightening and encouraging.

CARP, the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance, and Moses Znaimer’s Zoomer Media are all working to change government and industry policy and attitudes.

And, while we may not be storming the boardrooms of the nation, we have plenty of other tools to use.

We don’t have to sit on the sidelines of family functions, or community events. Let’s speak up!

We have social media skills. Let’s use them to stay abreast of current affairs and why you can appreciate your teenage granddaughter’s preference for Tik Tok over Instagram.

Stay positive. We have a lot to be proud of looking in our rearview mirror, and a lot to offer now and in the future.

Volunteer. Anywhere. With anyone. Hang out with young people at the gym or in an education setting.

Keep active physically. Try something new.

After all, age really is just a number.