I just read in today’s news that by 2050, 1 of every 6 people in the WORLD will be 65 or older, “leaving the US and other nations struggling to support the elderly.” It’s time to stop this nonsense and get real about “the aging crisis.”
The vast majority of “elders” could do a helluva lot more for themselves–and would willingly–if we weren’t painted as inept, worn out and unable by society. The notion that anyone over 40 is less capable of doing “the work” started in the 1820’s when “the work” was mostly farming and heavy manufacturing and things like tractors didn’t exist. Now we sit at desks and use telephones and computers to get the work done. You can be 99 and get it done just fine.
But ask anyone who’s over 60 and looking for a job, and they’ll give you more than you ever want to know about how easy it is in this country–and most others–to not hire someone because of age.
Of course it’s not called that, because ageism is illegal. It comes out as “overqualified” or “want fresh creative ideas” or some other blather.
We need to face one strong hard fact: The best way to avoid the horrendous cash outlay for people as they age is for every country, but particularly the US, to begin to acknowledge what older workers are still quite capable of doing and to give them a fair chance to do it. The amount of talent, skill and knowledge we waste in the name of an outmoded version of retirement is obscene. The lack of engagement and mental challenge breeds illness and decline. And the need for a better approach is urgent.
Everyone wins if companies and communities find ways to harness older talent by giving workers old enough to retire innovative programs in which they can continue to contribute for a good long time. This is not that hard, folks. Mostly it’s a matter of letting them in.