Carole Gordon, Social Gerentologist - Studying Social, Psychological, Cognitive, & Biological Aspects of Ageing

Interviewed by

Tim Lynch

Carole Gordon, Social Gerentologist - Studying Social, Psychological, Cognitive, & Biological Aspects of Ageing

For the first time in human history the phenomenon of the global population ageing and its impact on social cohesion and economic sustainability is increasing - and needs to be addressed.

For the first time in human history the phenomenon of the global population ageing and its impact on social cohesion and economic sustainability is increasing - and needs to be addressed.

The political word for elders is gerantocracy … When soon, older people will be in the majority and we will have to rethink, what democracy is …

This interview is about re-languaging, leadership, acknowledgement and the impacting of more people ageing and how we factor them into the full healthy happy lives.

Covering New Zealand, to China and Japan as well as Europe - now known as super-ageing countries and NZ too, is getting close to becoming a super-ageing country.

Whereas, Europe has been discussing this issue for 20 years NZ has not. The OECD has been warning us as well.

For example - In Tauranga a NZ city of 130,000, ageing people are going to be 1 in 3 in ten years time - it is moving faster that we recognise.

An engaging interview that everyone in society needs to became aware of - the surge in numbers of people ageing and how are we going to factor the many variables as well as the costs into this phenomenon.


This interview covers:

* What population ageing means - fewer young people-more older people living longer.
* Super-aging nations, changing economies and international responses.
* New Zealand ageing. Issues, challenges and opportunities - Time to wake up and get over ageism-stop denying the reality.
* Impact in regions and communities that some cities like Tauranga will in 10 years time have 40% of its population as elders.
* Need for changing the language, systems understand, adapt and innovate - the good work of Kiwi Bank, NZ Super Fund.
* Age - friendly everything needs to be factored - urban planning, products and services for people living longer living more and longer after retirement
* Investing in growing a Silver Economy - what is it, what does this mean, what is happening internationally?
* Opportunity for younger generations, millennials to be innovative is finding ways to tap into this market, be for services and products.
* 10 age-friendly things to do today in your community new models-of care ( perhaps future of retirement villages) Men’s Sheds.
* The role of Elders - leadership / values / role models giving hope to future generations.

When we look at Europe especially Greece, but also Portugal, Spain and Italy the populations are basically stagnant, the people are getting older and these countries are not really growing economically and the people continue to age and expect pensions. Where there is an urgent need for a new economic formula.

Fortunately, here in NZ, Michael Cullen when he was the Minister of Finance in the Clark Labour Government put in Kiwi Saver and the National Super Fund, but Carole feels that we need to contribute more to it. We evidently had one of the the top investment companies handling the fund, but when the Key Government came to power they stopped the investments contributing into that fund - despite the fact that it was/is a good performer.

At present because the ageing population have very few champions for this demographic, there is virtually no discussion that factors in the growing numbers of people who are over 60 etc and Carole says we can now include the 50 year olds as well.

With local government being pushed by central government to open up to more urban sprawl, how will older people who live further out of the city going to travel to their doctor, physiotherapist or hospital to visit friends or buy food etc - when they have to travel such huge distances and now may not be allowed to drive? Carole says there is a need for lifetime neighbourhoods or age friendly communities - so that those people can better manage their lives - instead of struggling to drive in over-full motorways or a poor train network.

What has happened is Katikati, near Tauranga is an example of people leaving Auckland over the last 10 years, and because it is a good thriving, modern, country town, with many facilities and good climate, it now has over 40% of its inhabitants over 65 years of age - and that demographic as a possible future microcosm of NZ - is actually greater than they have in Japan - however Japan because it is the highest ageing country on our planet, has already planned for these changes and can absorb the changing circumstances.

The interview also covers ‘social capital’ which is the people and their combined and diverse abilities plus qualities and how can we assist them and their community to make their area more cohesive and resilient.

Carole has a little mantra which says - “we need to understand what population ageing means - then we need to adapt and then we need to innovate”.

Local Government needs to start factoring in the aged in their 10 year plans and focus on the changing of the demographics - up until now they have been lacking and their vision.

For example - In Tauranga a city of 130,000, ageing people are going to be 1 in 3 in ten years time - it is moving faster that we recognise.

The critical issue is this is demographic denial and she believes that we are not languaging ageing - in that we are not talking about it.

Carol is very strong in calling out the way society talks about the elderly and that the ‘old people are the others’ - separated from society. She says, they are our people - and they are our families - and they are our grandparents and our parents and they are our elders. That if we deny them we are also in many ways denying our old age. She feels very passionate that we remain connected on every level as these older people have contributed much to our communities and our society as a whole.- especially the growth and prosperity of NZ.

She says the terminology of ‘older people’ needs to be languaged in a new choice of vernacular - using the words ‘mature and older people’ and we have ‘old and older’ people.

The last half of life can be purposeful and meaningful, that the baby boomers will never be old they will be pushing the boundaries at many levels.

We are coming into the ‘No Age Society.’


Our Future:

The longevity economy or the silver economy - is expected to grow globally by $15 trillion by 2020 and in NZ from 1$1.5 billion from 2011 to $65 billion in 2050 and you will never read or hear about this in the media or from politicians of the impact of the boomers.

Because ether are living longer and icing well - however though purchasing of good and leisure activities, Carole’s interest is in lifelong learning, of new skills extending our education reflecting on philosophical thoughts etc etc.

Retirement villages are denuding society of the wisdom and joy of the elders by locking them away in separation from their families and the community as a whole. It definitely does not benefit people at this age to lose connection with family, relatives, friends and community.

Yet, internationally countries, especially in Europe are adapting to these changes by manufacturing and marketing products that make life more easier for elders to negotiate life. (listen to the interview)

Carole languages the possibilities and the opportunities that we need to look for and work towards - this is a key focus for her. She has been at an arts debate recently where the discussion mentioned that the ‘neo-liberal economy’ has reached its limits creating many social problems and that it is time that we revisited ‘economy’ in far more people and community friendly ways.

Many old established towns in NZ are very possibly going to fall away because there will be no young people left and thus the ageing people will hang in until they finally die. And this is already happening in Japan where the Government has closed off villages and closed off roads as they are not economically viable anymore. In some instances schools were closed and turned into nursing homes for older people.

In NZ we have no outdoor gyms that are put up for elders to go out, have a get-together, do some exercises and meet and catch up.

When a person retires with a lot of accumulated knowledge - the name of the game is to have that person engaged somehow sharing this even if it only via workshops or other festivals or gatherings - maybe at night schools etc.


This is only from the the first 20 minutes of this engaging interview.

Footnote:
Yet, we also have to factor in climate change and all the other urgent global variables that are happening within the biosphere too.

 

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Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'

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