There seems to be an unnecessary stigma hovering over the idea of aging. We grow from children into adults but that is not the end of road for us. Join us in conversation with Dr. Bill Thomas as he shares an exciting viewpoint on elderhood with us. Enjoy the show!
Society today does not often view older people positively. Dr. Bill Thomas has spent his career as a doctor, author, and speaker researching and changing this view. He has found that western culture is very familiar and accepting of the shift from childhood to adulthood as individuals gain power and prominence in society, however there is a misguided notion that shifting from adulthood to older adulthood means a loss of power and importance. This is simply not the case.
Adults in their 60s and 70s have a legitimate place to stand up and be heard. Dr. Bill assures us that letting go of the “adult license” associated with employment, marriage, and productivity means that we have an opportunity to grab hold of and embody the “elder license” which only strengthens our position in society.
What’s most impressive about embracing the position of elderhood is that individuals actually gain power and freedom rather than loosing it. This is where the misconception lies. Adulthood has many restraints and confined lanes that individuals must stay in whereas elderhood gives people the opportunity and freedom to do just about anything. As functioning members of society that still contribute financially to businesses and tourism, this extra freedom of elderhood makes older adults a force to be acknowledged and respected.
Wisdom is an advantage of elderhood that can be shared through mentoring and having the courage to continue speaking up. Dr. Bill encourages women to not stay confined to “generational self-segregation” by only spending time with others in our age group. Instead, it’s advantageous to society as a whole if elders share the wisdom they’ve accumulated over the years to younger generations. Not only will younger adults benefit from our advice and experiences, but our influence will also help change society’s concept of elderhood and the value of older adults.
Dr. Bill goes on to say that “the value of an elder is ultimately measured in the influence an elder can exert on other people”. While adulthood is all about power, elders see the value in influence. If older adults stay quiet and withhold their influence from younger generations, the misconception that aging is a negative process will only continue.
Elders have an opportunity and even a responsibility to let the next generation know that life after 60 is a new adventure full of freedom, wisdom, and opportunity. Really, when we achieve the balance of wisdom, happiness, and fulfillment that comes from slowing down and going deeper, we are able to speak up and inspire younger generations. It’s a gift to those who come after us.
Younger generations are redefining certain aspects in life as older generations are able to help them understand our experiences and the processes we’ve already gone through. But changing society’s perception of aging does not fall on younger generations alone. Older adults must be bold, recognize the wisdom and experiences that they bring to the table, and embrace their elderhood if they want to see change.
What do you think about the idea of elderhood? Does it fit your understanding of your role in society? What do you wish older generations had passed on to you? Please join the discussion below!