The Positive Promotion of Older People

13/10/2015

I was recently asked to speak at an event by Age UK Cheshire East and also speaking was Edwina Currie. Edwina's talk focussed on 'Growing Old Disgracefully'. Her talk was engaging and she delivered it with passion and energy. I believe it would be impossible not to have enjoyed listening to her speak no matter what your personal view of her political or celebrity life. What I also enjoyed was the fact that she is in her 70th year and that she captivated a room full of business people with her positive messages about being an older person.
This got me thinking about the positive promotion of older people in society and how oler people in general are viewed. During my research I came across a new reality show called 'Close to the Edge' a BBC Four six part documentary style drama about a group of 65-80 year olds living in Bournemouth, due to air on the 6th October 2015. The format for the show is based loosely on the 'structured reality' of 'Made in Chelsea' and the 'Only Way is Essex'.
Karl Warner the producer of the show says "the aim of the show is to subvert the agesit assumption that over-60 equals over-the-hill." The BBC promotes it as a "TV programme redifining old age." Surely this can only be a positive thing? Given that there are now 11.4 million people aged 65 or over in the UK and the number of over 75's is expected to double in the next 30 years, shouldn't we have more positive programmes featuring older people? And why not adopt these TV formats that have so far focussed on younger people?
Well according to Terry Ramsey of The Telegraph the outcome of this show is far from positive, he writes "..it is clumsy, embarrassing and dull." He continues "But the worst thing about Close to the Edge is the way it comes across as if the makers are sniggering at the subjects: they've given hem dull situations, filmed wooden dialogue an are inviting us to chuckle at their awfulness."
Another reporter from The Telegraph wrote a recent article titled "We'e tired of these sterotypes of older people in the media." She commented on today's films and TV sows being filledwith ageist sterotypes from being computer illiterate to making light of memory loss.
Clearly there's more work to do to promote a more positive image of older peple and we need to readdress the balance of older people in our society. We can all play a small part by bening more aware of how we perceive and talk about older people. And maybe we should encourage Edwina to spek out more often!