The tag line for our newest outreach script, Getting On, reads: ‘What does it mean to grow old in Britain today? And what does being ‘old’ mean anyway?’

When talking about such a diverse group of people spanning such a huge age range (over 50 years if we’re starting at the current pensionable age for women, 60, and ending with Britain’s current oldest person at 113, Florence Emily Baldwin) they are actually pretty difficult questions to answer.

In the script I wanted to illustrate the nonsense of lumping together 19% of the population in to one category and the impossibility of covering all the issues that would impact on such a range of people. Knowing that there was no way that I was going to be able to come up with any definitives I created a list of areas that I felt were important to cover. These included: isolation, poverty and age discrimination as well as focussing on a central tenet of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, each human being’s ‘inherent dignity’.

The people I interviewed came from a variety of sources. Age Concern Bristol have been very supportive of the project and have worked closely with me on identifying individuals who would be willing to speak. This led to a very moving interview with a man in his late 60’s, Stanley in the script, who after being attacked on the street went in to a spiral of depression, leading to bankruptcy and imminent homelessness. It was only through Age Concern’s interventions that Stanley feels his life is now full and ‘worth living.’ Our relationship with Age Concern Bristol has led to a special performance of the script at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol on the 14th March.

As well as working with NGOs and campaigning organisations I began to look to the media where I found another interviewee, who featured on the Dispatches programme, Too Old to Work. A fitness instructor with over 30 years experience, Amelia was forced to leave her job without a valid explanation for her dismissal. Together with her husband, Peter, she took her case to appeal, leading to her reinstatement at the fitness centre where she still runs seven sessions a week, aged 71. Before the interview I took part in one of these sessions and was left sweating and red faced after 15 minutes, providing a clear example of Peter’s observation that:

“The people who are much younger than her, wouldn’t be capable of doing anything like what she’d done, these middle aged, overweight, unfit people. It’s a glorious example of the nonsense of ageism.”

What struck me very strongly about the people I interviewed was their sense of self. Yes, they had grown older and although this had had a physical impact on their lives, they were on the whole, the same people they had always been. To categorise them as somehow falling in to the same group, merely because of a vague similarity in age was, at the very least, unhelpful. If we use the same yard stick, people in their early 20s have the same needs/desires/interests as those in their late 50s viagra kaufen nachnahme. I think Elizabeth, a former journalist from West London, sums this up beautifully in the following lines which I believe are at the essence of the script.

“There’s a lot of whitewashing and everybody’s lumped together once you’re a certain age. You almost lose who you are. It’s very important isn’t it that we keep our originality, we keep ourselves as being people.”

By Sara Masters, co-Artistic Director

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