“60 is the new 16. Age isn’t in my anatomy”. This week’s Young Reporters article

Why when we see youth approaching do we instantly think to cross the road? Why do we assume a 20-year-old would attack us, but a 60-year-old wouldn’t? Looking at somebody’s face doesn’t tell us their beliefs, background or whether they have a criminal record. Until we have witnessed someone’s actions we can’t factually say we’re in danger. Age only symbolises time.

866,000 potential workers aged 50 to 64 would like to work but can’t.

Some seem to think age symbolises how clean we are. Statistically are all elderly people unclean compared to the middle aged/youth? Speaking to older people some feel stigmatised as dirty, having heard younger people saying they wouldn’t work with smelly old people.  The common knowledge is age doesn’t stop your ability to clean but with age can come ill health. We don’t know what’s going on in their lives. We don’t know if this is how they’ve been brought up. We don’t know if they’re in ill health. So, how can we judge? Repeat the phrase: age is just a number. You know it’s true because, how many people do you know under 65 who are in ill health? In extreme cases some adults can barely carry out daily tasks such as making breakfast and some of these people don’t receive sick benefits or enough to afford daily care. In these circumstances dusting under the bed isn’t going to be their main priority. Age doesn’t work by getting into old age and deciding not to clean anymore. If somebody chooses to be clean at 59 chances are they will be at 60. So, you’ve seen an old lady poking around in the pick n mix without a scoop does this really mean each of the 617 million elderly around the world would do the same?

I would be a hypocrite to say we must stop stereotyping. It’s natural for us to judge things we don’t understand. However, we can teach ourselves to do it less to reduce age divides and become a more accepting community. We must think about what we’re thinking. If you hold the opinion ‘University students are stuck up’ instead think ‘Some university students are stuck up’ then you may start thinking ‘I’ve met some stuck-up university students, but I can’t assume they all are’.

Wouldn’t you agree mental health should rid the divide between youth and elderly? People look forward to retirement but then creeps the dreaded prospect of change. The retired can begin to feel they have little purpose: not working, family becoming less dependent and their physical health declining. This can cause them to feel socially isolated, paranoid and anxious bringing the reality that unipolar depression is common in 7% of the older population. Similarly, youth look forward to turning 16 to gain freedom from parents, get a job or study something they’re passionate about. Again, creeps the dreaded prospect of change There’s the pressure of independence, surviving in the world of work and being constantly judged by everyone you meet. As a result, they may also feel socially isolated, paranoid, anxious and they may even give up in education. Again, there’s this reality: the rate of unipolar depression diagnosis for teenagers has increased by 63% since 2013.Life can be brutal especially reaching adolescence/old age. Think before you judge. An older/younger person might be experiencing something like you.

Britain 2019: Increases in knife crime, street crime and gang culture have probably triggered us all to cross the road from a teenager. Despite all this Stop. Look. Listen. We are surrounded by a new generation of teenagers wanting to raise awareness of societies issues for example, youth are now taking to YouTube to spread awareness about mental health. We have teenagers concerned about their future career avoiding hooliganism. I myself have witnessed teenage girls (to some seen as ignorant) giving directions to an elderly man. At the bus stop if stood next to a teenager, ask them if the bus has gone by. Would they really ignore you? There’s been thousands of theories attached to the Jack the Ripper case, but lack of DNA evidence can’t factually confirm their identity nor their age. Bringing the conclusion: age doesn’t determine whether you choose the wrong path, make bad decisions or do wrong in society.

Article first appeared in Grimsby Telegraph 11th June 2019.
By Young Reporter Charlotte Freeman