From across the pond comes word that Britons are just as obsessed about aging as Americans. After age 50, they enter an “identify void,” writes Geraldine Bedell in The Telegraph.They are “shunted off our television screens and expected to ‘move aside’ in other jobs. Ignored by advertisers, they become of less interest to the media. They are on a downward spiral of invisibility. Once they leave employment, they find it hard to get work.”

But, she says, “It doesn’t have to be like this. In the United States, the $100,000 Purpose Prize is awarded annually to entrepreneurs over 60. There are always hundreds of nominations.” She cites two 2010 Prize winners as examples: Allan Barsema, who created an online network to help the homeless get help, and Inez Killingsworth, who helps homeowners avoid foreclosure by negotiating with banks for more favorable terms on mortgages.

Bedell, who is the founder of a forum on aging called, wonders if our linear approach toward life’s stages makes sense: “Why work our longest hours at a time when our children are young? Couldn’t we take a longer view of the life course, one that would allow us to take gap years at any point, so as to take on caring responsibilities or voluntary work or go into further education?”

She concludes, “A lot more of us are living longer. We need to get used to it and to celebrate what older people can offer: experience, wisdom and a kind of long view that leads them to a greater interest in family and community, Marc Freedman’s windfall of talent. We need to start emphasising the pleasure and activity and articulacy and success and sexiness of older people. Otherwise we are in for a pretty miserable time. Which is going to last rather a long while.”

Share This