Should Age Matter?

by Krantcents · 31 comments

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Should age matter?!  I bet you think I am talking about me.  Just because I am older (middle aged), it isn’t always about me.  Alright, I am just past middle aged, I am sixty-six (66) years old, but as healthy as a thirty-five (35) year old!  I expect to live to a hundred, but more importantly thirty (30) years in retirement (again).  Read on because how we feel about age will affect you too!

In Western society, age does not receive much respect.  In the United States, we do not look to older people as wise and experienced, but rather as a burden to society.  It is a troubling issue!  As a country, we are more concerned if Social Security and Medicare will be solvent for Baby Boomers.  If we really cared about our aging population, we would find a way to keep it solvent without just making cuts to it.  Sooner or later, all of us will age and need some help.

Some older people are still working because they need to because they did not save enough for retirement.  Can you imagine working in your sixties, seventies or eighties?  Some people choose to keep working because they enjoy their career or job.  I was a teenager in the 1960s and never thought I would be able to enjoy some of the rock n roll bands forty (40) plus years later.  The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, Beach Boys, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, The Eagles  and ZZ Top to name just some of them.

I realize their fans are probably the same age, but I think there are some new fans too.  Advances in medicine and a variety of other things are allowing older people to stay active later in life.  Michael E, DeBakey was a famous heart surgeon.  He was performing heart surgery well into his eighties!  He stayed active working well into his nineties contributing surgical procedures and teaching until his death at ninety-nine (99) years old.  John Wooden retired UCLA basketball coach who won more national championships than any other college basket ball coach in history was still active in his nineties. He retired from coaching in his sixties, but kept doing speaking engagements into his nineties.  There are many older people doing worthwhile work who are just not famous.

So why do we view older people so negatively?  It doesn’t stop with older people though.  We view young people in a negative way too.  New college graduates have had a difficult time finding work because of lack of experience.  Let’s face it, isn’t that code for too young.  I realize the bad economy and limited number or job openings contribute to this dilemma, however competition is stiff.  There are certain careers that are over when your reach thirties.  Models, actors, actresses, Olympic and professional athletes peak early and either retire or find different roles.  How many professional or Olympic athletes are still playing into their forties?  Not many!

There are minimum age for many professions such as firefighters, police and professional athletic careers.  I think these minimum requirements make sense, but I am sure there are people who think differently.  We have minimum age requirements for being president too.  Funny, there are no minimum experience requirements to become President of the United States.  I am much more concerned with experience than I am about age, but the electorate at large is not.  Just look at who was elected president in the last fifty (50) years.  There is always concern about older candidates being electable if they are in their seventies.

Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life and there is no concern about their abilities to do important work into their eighties or nineties.  I would think their decisions could impact the entire country and yet there is no concern.  President Reagan may have had Alzheimer’s disease as President, but no one was concerned.  Perhaps President of the United States is not that important!  I guess the checks and balances make the position less important.  Then why is the selection and election so important?

Recently, we saw the Catholic Pope step down because of age and health.  If you are in poor health you should step down no matter what your age.  This was the first time in some seven hundred years that a sitting Pope stepped down.  I wonder if the candidate Pope went through a physical before he was elected.  I am sure President Reagan had a physical each year, why didn’t they discover he had Alzheimer’s?  I think they kept it hidden.  My mother had Dementia in her late nineties, but it was discovered because I asked the doctor to evaluate her.

Age is not exclusive to people!  I notice that companies, institutions and publications celebrate how old they are.  I think we have respect for longevity, although in some places we tear down buildings because of age.  Schools and universities display their founding prominently on their main building and their materials.  Companies will celebrate their longevity because it shows success over a long time.  There are buildings, monuments and other things that are over a 1,000 or more years old. We flock to see the Egyptian pyramids, Grand Canyon, Taj Mahal, Venice Canals, churches, Tower of London, European castles and spend hours in museums to see other older artifacts.  What is our fascination with old stuff, but not people?

Why does this all matter?  If older people do not leave their jobs and retire, young people will have difficulty finding work.  I think this last recession was a preview of the future.  Older people were decimated by the 2008 stock market and housing bubble crash.  They will keep on working until they rebuild their portfolio or have enough savings to retire.  Baby Boomers comprise approximately 28% of the U.S. population.  How many are still working?  Supposedly, one in four Baby Boomers will continue working full time.  That has to affect the number of job openings.

Final Thoughts

Personally, age should not matter!  Skills and experience should be the criteria for selection or valued by society.  If we do not do something for older workers, do not expect unemployment rates to change much.  Unemployment is measured by who is collecting unemployment benefits.  There are more people who are not counted such as the people who are no longer collecting unemployment.  The real unemployment figure is much higher and reflects the difficulty of the recession.  The implication of older workers working longer is far reaching and will ultimately affect the economy.  Let’s not penalize older workers though because we need all kinds of workers in this economy.   Should age matter?

Photo by:  Brett Jordan

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Should age matter?

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{ 30 comments }

My Financial Independence Journey February 28, 2013 at 5:15 am

I don’t think that age should matter, but often people use age as a surrogate for flexibility, experience, quickness, etc. I think that the culture may start to shift since so many older people don’t have enough money to retire and will need to work. It would be better if they could stay working in their field instead of taking a much lower paying and maybe less stimulating job because no one else will hire them.

Krantcents February 28, 2013 at 6:55 am

My fear is that there will be a backlash against older people who hang on to their jobs too long. It has an effect on unemployment statistics too.

Money Beagle February 28, 2013 at 7:15 am

It always amazes me that people think this way. First, old people were not always old. They were once the same age as those making judgments, and if they commanded respect, were contributing members of society, and were well regarded, those favors should not disappear. Second, those judging will one day become old themselves, and I bet they would not be agreeable to the idea of being treated with such disregard once that day comes. It all comes down to the golden rule.

Krantcents February 28, 2013 at 10:48 am

Many “old” people perpetuate the myth, but not all. There are many baby boomers that will continue working past their retirement age which will help change some of the myths. One of the problems about saving for retirement when you are young is it seems like it is so far away. The reality is time goes very quickly!

Society says that you are a senior citizen eligible for senior discounts starting at age 55. 65 years old used to qualify youfor Social Security and retirement. We are living longer, better and healthier. It is probably a good argument to delay retirement and Social Security eligibility.

John S @ Frugal Rules February 28, 2013 at 8:11 am

It always amazes me to see people believe age matters. I know it’s important, but on a much more secondary or tertiary level. I agree that experience and skills are much more of a valuable measuring stick. I know that age can breed wisdom, but experience breeds lessons learned that can be invaluable on a number of levels.

Krantcents February 28, 2013 at 10:51 am

If I were going to create a dream team of brainiacs in any field, I would want to have a mix of genders, ages, backgrounds and expertise. I think that is what constitutes a good team in any situation. Funny how business seems slow to consider all these factors.

maria@moneyprinciple February 28, 2013 at 1:14 pm

You know I agree! Then again I would :) . There is a lot of mythology about age and people forget that doesn’t give up thing because one gets old but gets old because they give up. I had a funny experience recently. I was teaching on an executive course and illustrating the fact that we don’t make decisions based on fact but judgement. So, I told the students ‘I am fifty. What was your first thought?’ Of course, no one simply though ‘well, she is fifty’ but made a judgement of some kind.

Anyway, I fifnished the lecture and there were questions. One of the guys asked ‘How do you manage to look so good at fifty.’ Now this really felt good – except I had to admit that it is my immature attitude to life and running :) .

Krantcents February 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Younger people have a huge misconception about age, I know I did. I think younger people think you will fall apart when you get old. I have know a number of old people who are very vital and energetic. My mother kept herself busy until her early nineties. Society says 50, 60 or 65 years old is old. Many would retire at 65 years old. About 15 years ago, I literally ran into Sophia Loren and I was surprised how good she looked in her late 60s. I even struggled with my age when I turned 65 because society said I was old. Many of my fellow baby boomers will continue working and it will affect the economy regarding jobs.

Pam@Pennysaverblog February 28, 2013 at 7:04 pm

When I taught English in South Korea I was surprised by the way they treated their elderly citizens. They were greatly respected for the most part, and children spoke very differently to people older than themselves. A big contrast to North America where the elderly don’t really have a lot of respect. However, when it comes to working, older people did not have nearly as much opportunity as younger people. Companies wanted to only hire young people and older people were often forced to retire even before they wanted to. In North America, by contrast, many older people are in the workforce even into their 70s and 80s.

Krantcents February 28, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Older workers will certainly affect the number of job openings as more decide to stay in the work place. I find it interesting that Asian countries respect their older citizens, but shut them out of employment. Maybe it is to open up the job market for the younger people. Maybe that is why families take care of their elderly/

Untemplater February 28, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Age is one of those things that we get stuck to stereotypes like young people are lazy and elderly people refuse to change. I’d much rather work with people vastly different in age from myself who are wholeheartedly active and contributing to the workplace versus work with only people in my age group who are slacking off all the time. I see a lot of people slacking and surfing the internet for hours at work, most of them happen to be in their early 20s, and it drives me crazy.

Krantcents March 1, 2013 at 7:01 am

I agree a mix of ages, backgrounds, experience and skills makes a better team than a single source. We all have to overcome stereotypes and biases.

Holly@ClubThrifty March 1, 2013 at 7:02 am

Interesting post! I agree that age shouldn’t matter. I know plenty of competent and incompetent people at every age level!

Krantcents March 1, 2013 at 7:40 am

Thanks. Very true, although I try to stay away from incompetence at any age.

Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce March 1, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I am really hoping that as time goes on, people who are later in age are seen as viable members of the workforce. Something tells me that this will happen due to advances in medicine, health advances, etc. We shall see!

Krantcents March 1, 2013 at 5:35 pm

The conflict lies in 2 areas! Older people are usually paid more because of their experience. Secondly, there are more baby boomers than the generations that follow and we need them to leave work to make room for the next generations. These factors influence us more than age, but the result is the same. I hope things change, but I have to be realistic.

Kim@Eyesonthedollar March 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Age should no matter. As long as you have the skills and personality, you should be able to work as long as you want.
I do get very dismayed with “burn out” older workers who are hanging on to grab a few more paychecks but they could care less if they are doing a good job or not. It also bothers me when older workers won’t learn new skills because they have always done it a certain way and don’t want to change. I could write some more about what bothers me about younger workers, but I don’t want to get off the topic too much.

Krantcents March 2, 2013 at 7:59 am

I think there are people like that at every age! Older workers should have skills and knowledge from all their years of experience, but that in itself does not make them good. If you are good at what you do, you should not counted out because of your age.

STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION) March 2, 2013 at 8:10 am

Age does not matter in the legal profession. In fact, older attorneys are held in high esteem. It is the practice of law and attorneys get better with practice. I have been studying and involved in tax and estate law for over 35 years. I read technical tax, estate and business law articles and laws every day. It is what I do. Then I convert this knowledge into helping clients, friends and strangers in some cases. It is never a burden and it is a blessing.

Krantcents March 2, 2013 at 8:22 am

Law and medicine may be the exception! In many more industries, older workers are let go or not hired because of ageism. In fact, I think it is just economics because older workers are normally paid more. I think in some cases we miss out on the skills and knowledge. The best situation would be a team of various skills and knowledge which includes everyone. In some ways it is like a sports team.

Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals March 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm

About what you said regarding a minimum age for some jobs – some of the very ones you mentioned also have maximum ages. My husband is in law enforcement, and – as we’re currently moving to a new state – he’s applying for his next job. Most departments won’t hire anyone over the age of 30 or 35, and many start to force retirement by late 50s/60s.

Krantcents March 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I have heard that there is an age limit for law enforcement before. LAPD has hired older candidates, but it is rare. Do you know what the reasoning is?

Nick @ CreditRanker March 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm

My grandmother is one of those people that continue to work. She is 85 and works 40 hours a week. She used to have another part time job in addition to this. She’s just the type that can’t sit still. During the winter she will go out and shovel her driveway and then do the neighbors as well! At this rate, I think she has a shot at the record books.

Krantcents March 3, 2013 at 9:06 am

I hope she is the future of older Americans. I want to be very active in my eighties as well. My mother was very active in her eighties and early nineties. She lived to almost reach 99 years old! I think it was that activity and engagement that helped her live so long. I already have a plan of what I will do after I leave my current career in less than five years. In fact, I wrote an article called I Will Never Retire!

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter March 4, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I am with you. I don’t think age should matter either. My grandmother also still works and loves. I think it keeps her healthy and stimulated. She does much better than those who just sit around.

Krantcents March 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Working or some other regular activity keeps you engaged and mentally active. Skills and knowledge should trump age.

Rob @FinancialSprout March 6, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Age should matter in some cases, like drinking and smoking age, or even minimum age for social security. I personally think that companies should stop offering people pensions, and just pay people more so that they can invest. Companies are paying new employees, plus pay old ones. Taking care of the elderly is making companies go broke. I don’t think that there should be age requirements on positions like the presidency. Why do you think people like Ron Paul won’t have a chance to be president? The sad fact is that society thinks he’s too old.

Krantcents March 6, 2013 at 4:16 pm

When the economy is doing well, there is a natural selection and bidding process. When there is high unemployment, wages are depressed. It is simple supply and demand. It is still up to each individual to save and take care of themselves. I don’t think Ron Paul is unsuccessful because his age! His thoughts do not get widespread support.

mbhunter March 6, 2013 at 9:55 pm

It used to be the role of the family (and church) to take care of the elderly. Those roles have faded into the background under the welfare state. It was a poor substitute.

Krantcents March 7, 2013 at 6:47 am

I think the economy may have caused some of this because the families are stretched.

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