sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Being the Eldest Person on Your Work Team

By Shelagh Murray March 03, 2023 Managing Money

Many of us continue to work past the point when society expects us to retire. Maybe we don’t feel ready to retire yet, maybe we just need the money.

Whatever the reason, it inevitably means that we are working with – and for – people who are younger than we are. Sometimes considerably younger than we are.

They’re All So Young!

I can’t remember at what point I realized that pretty much everyone I was dealing with in my life was younger than me. The doctor, the dentist, the boss, even their boss, the bank manager – all those people who used to be old!

I started a new job six months ago, after years of working from home. The people I work with on a day-to-day basis are young enough to be my kids – or even my grandkids.

It’s interesting, energizing, fun. But it can also be difficult. Difficult to see younger people progressing ahead of you. Difficult to see them getting opportunities that you didn’t get when you were their age. Harder still to see them making the same mistakes that you made.

You Need a Long Memory

It’s easy to dismiss them as not having the experience, not understanding how the world works. But I think it’s important that we have a long memory – that we remember ourselves at 18, or 21, or 35, or 42, and the pressures we were under – and also what we were capable of.

Respect works both ways. They’re finding their way in the world, just as we had to. Just as we still are.

Time to Learn

Let’s not always assume that the old way of doing it (our way or doing it) was the best. The younger generations look at how we did things and they can see the problems. And things change, the old solutions don’t work anymore, or the new solutions are better. Time to move on.

There was a prime example at work the other day. I was on the phone to our tech team, and I needed the serial numbers from the printer. The printer is nowhere near the phone lines. I would have written them down, but my colleague simply took a photo on his phone.

It was quicker. And with the photo on his phone he could enlarge the image to make it clearer, he could send it to someone, and he could save it for later (and know where he’d put it). Lesson learned.

Young Boss

And spare a thought for the boss – in charge of someone old enough to be their mother. Or older than their mother. Don’t make life difficult for them just because they’re the boss and they’re young.

For whatever reason, you’re not the boss, and they are – so get over it, and get on with it, and get on with them.

At the end of the day, they probably learned from us, and we learned from them. And that’s what matters.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How do you feel when surrounded by people younger than you? Do you allow yourself to feel isolated because of ageism-affected mindset? What would it take you to change the way you think about and interact with younger people – at work or anywhere else? Please share with our sisters!

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sue Eller

Everyone around me is younger than I am. They are good to me but sometimes I feel like I don’t belong. And let’s not talk about IT they are very understanding but by the time the problem is fixed and I get off the phone I feel like I put in a full week instead of just 60 mins I am afraid that if I start looking for another job that nobody will hire me. I know that they can’t discriminate because of age but I also know there are ways around it plus I won’t make the money I am making now. Any ideas should I stay or should I go?


I find that there is terrible age discrimination in the hiring process. This involves the preconceived stereotypes that interviewers have of older adults and a lack of respect for older workers.

The Author

Shelagh was an ordinary middle-aged woman, living a comfortable life and expecting a comfortable retirement. But now she’s not. Her husband walked away when she was 58, so she did the only thing any sane person can do these days – she started a blog.

You Might Also Like