We talk about
the elderly in gerontology magazines, in the daily press pages dedicated to
health -if any- or successions and, of course in cases of death announcement.
Apart from those issues -which are of course profitable- it seems that nobody
really cares about the elderly.
So it is clear
that they are not taken into account for what they are but for what they have.
No doubt that they are good customers. That is why their personal details are
very useful and a lot of companies seek them at all cost to inflate the venal
data basis they use for many purposes. For example, they send personalized
invitations for the promotion of a particular product in a hotel somewhere,
offering them to attend the event. Who has never received those kind of
And it seems
people have forgotten their actual value: they are exclusively considered as
passive people. In Spain they are even called “passive classes” (“clases
pasivas”) despite the fact that more and more people grow older in good physical
and mental health, feeling fully integrated in what is called “active
citizenship”; even if for the moment they are not considered full right members – when they are not excluded and
marginalised. We are aware of that. But there is no doubt that the situation
will improve: manifestos are already out there, demanding the right to decide
freely the age of retirement.
those statements are true, we can feel that a radical
and rapid change in the fields of intergenerational relationships is in the air.
To be efficient, this change will have to be based upon teaching. It is the
logical consequence of new behaviours and a wider acceptance of ageing people
who remain “young”, since they personally take care of their health, which is as
critical for improving the quality of life, as their genetic predispositions.
Nobody can deny that not only do they live longer but also
According to the
press, they already have a name: they are the Dankai generation. This
weird word is used in Japan for older people in good physical and mental
conditions. This group is becoming the bigger social class of the world
population. It is a good thing to have such a word to identify them, since it
reaffirms the acknowledgement they deserve and must claim for, without giving up
We, the elderly,
have always belonged to this “active citizenship”: we are active citizens
because we have only retired from our jobs, not from our lives; because we have
never given up on constant learning; because we are aware that the demographic
change requires commitment and intergenerational understanding, a “social
responsibility” in other words.
That is why we
want to remain “active citizens” for as long as possible. It is fair; we
want and we can help future generations to build our modern society. We have a
wonderful example of intergenerational harmony: the Spanish football team, who
won the European Football Championship, was lead by a seventy-year-old coach,
who did very well with twenty-year-old players!
I am sure that
we could easily find plenty of other seniors and anonymous veterans in many other fields, people
able to motivate and contribute actively to the development of projects. And
they exist, there is no doubt about this, but today they remain the exception
that justifies our claims.
And as rights do
not just happen out of the blue, we must defend, demand and insist on them until
we get them. Our time is no longer for sale. We are retired, that is true, but
we are active citizens, with the strength our experience brought to
us, and we wish to contribute
to the society.
Every day more
and more people agree with us. And we are constantly ready to offer our
enriching impartiality, the one we’ve protected ever since we retired.
We have a lot to
offer. Can this be underestimated?