Sunday, 15 July 2007
Positive Ageing - Growing Old Disgracefully
The Zimmers, the UK rock band with an average age of 82, continue their bid for world domination... or at the very least some recognition that older folks can continue to play a part in society and deserve to be heard.
This is Positive Ageing at its best, and the second example I’ve come across in the past few weeks – the other is Dr Lilli Hvingtoft -Foster, the President of the Open University Psychological Society, which she was instrumental in establishing in 1974. The Grande Dame doesn’t reveal her age, but she must be 80 if she’s a day. She opened the recent OUPS Psychology of Well-Being Conference - her passion for her subject was immediately obvious, over the three days she attended all the lectures – a brilliant example of how life-long learning can help keep you young.
The Zimmers, who created a storm a month or so ago with their recording of The Who's My Generation, and whose next single, a cover of The Prodigy's 1996 song Firestarter, is due out in October, have taken a much more in your face approach to Positive Ageing. I loved the first documentary that the award-winning journalist Tim Samuels made about them; firstly it showed how mistaken we are to ignore older people, or to write them off as being somehow past their prime - and more importantly how we can continue to have fun and make a difference in the world whatever our age.
In a follow-up programme tonight on the UK’s BBC 2 at 10pm , we see The Zimmers conquering America, being interviewed by the world's media and making appearances in front of the camera as if they were all born to it. They have their own Myspace page now, as well as an entry in Wikipedia, and numerous videos on Youtube made by admiring fans, plus hundreds of mentions in blogs world-wide.
It goes without saying that in the UK's increasingly individualistic culture we need to treat older people with more respect. And what I really hope the Zimmers achieve through this new media spotlight is to make people realise that ageing positively is not a myth: retirement can be just as enjoyable, exciting and rewarding a time as your youth or middle age. The world is still your oyster whether you're 28 or 82.