When The Silver Surfers Club had their first walkathon challenging ageism and bringing about a positive twist to it. We couldn’t help but reach out to Joyce as a fellow blogger to want to know her thoughts on “The International Day for Older Persons.”
Why we reached out to Joyce Williams? – Joyce Williams has travelled the world, written books, been a physical therapist and TV Presenter. She is a grandmother and was once a technophobe. At the age of 80, she took up blogging about being “ancient in a modern world” and experiencing everyday ageism.
Down Memory Lane – Grandma Williams as she is popularly known reminisces the day she decided to take up blogging with pride. “I noticed that a class called Blogging for Beginners was about to start. I doubt they expected an 80-year-old to turn up. Clutching the rail, as you do at 80+ I hesitantly descended to be greeted warmly by a cheerful bearded young man. He turned out to be Paul. I think he was shocked by what his advert had turned up. I asked if it was Ok for me to come in. ”Of course!” was the answer.”
“Their patience was superb even when my first question was, “Could you please explain what a blog actually is?”” After her first couple of posts, her glass began to overflow and Joyce had found her niche. “I wanted to write about what it was like being old.” Hastening to reassure everyone, Joyce adds, “Much to my surprise and delight, being ancient is proving to be a great time of my life. Really! I found I wanted to challenge the unthinking ageism in today’s world.” She’s also got a big fan in her husband, who dotingly reads what she writes and corrects statements when needed.
With ageism seeing an all-time high, we speak about “Why we should celebrate Old Age?” Read on to find out what Joyce has to say.
“Let’s begin with that word “we”. Who are “we”? Interesting question! The word can have two meanings: we the people of the world, and us, we the people who are old. A look at success and achievement from the two angles and we realise both have every reason to celebrate. Old age has become one of the world’s success stories.
Since 1950, we have added 26 years to UK Life Expectancy. UK Life expectancy at birth is now 79.2 for a boy and 82.9 for a girl. 100 years ago it was 54 and 57. Celebration due indeed!
Never have we had such a large healthy active group of older people, thoroughly enjoying bonus years and yet significantly contributing to society and the economy.
It isn’t just that many continue to work as reliable, skilled and enthusiastic employees, but of serious significance is their grandparent babysitting role in allowing younger women to pursue their careers. Have a look around Museums, Heritage sites and Parks during school holidays. Full of joyous granddads playing and cherishing grandmas patiently explaining. Everyone, all generations, happy!
And such benefit to children. Older people are living history aren’t they? Have you ever thought about it? I am 82. My grandmother, who could talk to me about her grandmother’s life, was born in 1870! The ability to view life on that scale provides both children and modern society with a wonderful balance.
Though perhaps the key contribution of older people in the West is in the world of volunteering. Thousands and thousands of hours, thousands of hours, worth millions of pounds, are put in by older people in every aspect of community life. Some are formal, Oxfam, Marie Curie, Befriending, Fundraising, National Trust, RSPB, Age UK, Friends of Museums etc. And none of these institutions could run without them. But the unsung, often unnoticed and certainly undervalued millions of hours Older People provide are as Carers, Good Neighbours (and even as local litter pickers! Met one the other day who does a half day per week ensuring a beautiful public space stays that way) are crucial to the economy and today’s society.
Take a trip back into the life of most of the UKs 80 year olds. They are the ultimate survivors! Born just as war broke out, their future was indeed dodgy. Fathers, relatives and homes were lost. If you survived the bombs and the Blitz, you had to get through a childhood of measles (it was really serious back then), chicken pox and diphtheria, polio, and TB. It was of course before the world acquired penicillin. Post War, the NHS and modern medicine improved life chances. But we lived with nightmare housing shortage, food rationing and clothing coupons for years. That’s what probably toughened us! But we did it. Brought up our families and with them created this amazing modern world we are all now exploring.
We made it! We got through! Three score years and ten, plus bonus years. And now to enjoy them. This wonderful creation of a long healthy active old age as part of normal life is a credit to everyone to our society. So yes, these are not ‘rubbish, dustbin years’. They are quality life years. Quite right that we should be celebrating, us, we the Oldies.”
Golden Nuggets of Wisdom to the Millenials – “There is nothing much left to die of! You, youngsters, have got it really easy. Go out there and make the difference, if I can start blogging at the age of 80 and change the views of a few people on ageism. What you do and how you make a difference with so many more years is all up to you.”
Reach out to Grandma Joyce and add to her long list of unthinking everyday ageisms –