I went with a friend to The 50 + Show on at Olympia at the weekend. I hasten to add that I am nowhere near 50 yet, but my friend was doing some research and I was interested in the sort of things that would be on offer and what I might have to face in the years to come. It’s a funny old time, this getting older business but if you’re remotely concerned about it I would strongly advise you not to go to a show like this because it was highly depressing. More like an 80 + Show. Full of electric wheelchairs and retirement homes, rambling, cures for arthritis and clumpy shoes. It all felt a little bit grey. Not Fifty Shades of Grey. Just one shade of grey. Grey.
However, there was at least a climbing wall that several brave octogenarians attempted:-
and then there was ballroom dancing:-
But where was the Zumba? The sailing? The yoga? The cool festivals? The delicious food and wine? Surely, moving forward, we don’t have to follow the age old path if we don’t want to? Growing old is compulsory. Growing up is not.
This is not a good state of affairs and things are going to have to change. One person in six is now over 65 and by 2030 there will be a million people over 80 in the UK. More than a third of today’s children are expected to live to be 100 and hopefully in a more positive way than my 99 year old grandmother who is in a home with dementia having outlived all of her friends, her husband and one of her children.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to spend the next 55 years gardening. So here I am then. Back to the Gap Year for grown-ups. Travel, adventure, mentoring, life experiences, you name it, it should have been there.
We can collectively do better. It is our responsibility to set the new scene.