According to The World Health Organization:
Today, there are around 600 million people aged 60 years and over worldwide. This number will double by 2025 and will reach two billion by 2050, with the vast majority of older people in the developing world.
I am Exhibit A in this growing global dilemma. As I approach 80 I sense a dismissive undercurrent in the corporate community. Perhaps it’s the ADD-like influence of the Internet that contributes to this—if you Google me you’ll learn the shocking fact that I was born in 1939, and if that’s all you learn, you might look to engage a younger advisor, coach or mentor without the experience and wisdom that comes with age. But if you research more deeply you’ll find that my chronological age differs significantly from my biological age, the latter having been clinically measured at 59 (with 20-year-old bones and 40-year-old lungs), I ski, mountain bike, kayak and horseback ride 200 days a year, I’m on the road 100+ days a year, I have no physical ailments or spare parts, and I remain at the cutting edge of my field. In fact, I am being asked to make speeches and work with organizations to share how I stay fit, sharp and young.
Discussing this with a client the other day, he very honestly declared to me, “People who have never met you will be concerned about your age— until they meet you!”
Ageism is likely to be a major social challenge in the coming years even though The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects applicants and employees who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age.
Even if some 80-year-olds are decrepit, we must be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water by punishing and discriminating against those who have vowed to stay young physically, emotionally and attitudinally.
What is your experience with ageism or age discrimination? Share your stories here.