The gerontologist Robert Butler introduced the term ageism 50 years ago, defining it as a type of discrimination – similar to racism and sexism – directed toward older people: the belief that they are unproductive, sickly, depressing, dependent, out of touch, cognitively impaired, incompetent and irrelevant. And these attitudes persist.
In 2016, in its World Values Survey, the World Health Organization canvassed more than 83,000 people across all age groups in 57 countries to assess cultural attitudes to older people. The results demonstrated that ageist attitudes and negative stereotypes about older people are widespread, with the lowest levels of respect being reported in high-income countries.
Aging is seen as a process of fading into grey, then into black – as an ending rather than as a genuine starting point for new adventure and new life.
Our intent in making this film is to offer an alternative view of aging that resonates with people of all ages – to show the diversity of older people and their appreciation for the genuine inner freedom and self-awareness that aging can bring.
We live in a world obsessed by youth and fearful of aging. But growing older has given many of us the chance to leave behind patterns of behaviour that didn’t serve us, to adopt new ways of relating to ourselves and the world, to explore our hidden talents, to pursue secret and long cherished dreams, and to finally take hold of what is authentic and valuable in ourselves.
By 2025 the number of people aged 60 and over will double, and by 2050 they will reach 2 billion globally. It’s time for a personal and social revolution in our view of aging.