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Older peoples day 2014: pros and cons of the ‘selfie with an older person’ campaign

by on October 2, 2014

Yesterday was International Older Peoples Day.  Here, for example, the World Health Organisation chose this day to focus on the role of older people as a ‘power for development’ while in the UK the Department of Work and Pensions organised the campaigns associated with the UK’s Older Peoples Day.  It is perhaps then not surprising that the DWP celebrated the day by highlighting that “three years on from an historic government move to outlaw enforced retirement, more than 1 million over 65s now choose to stay in work” whilst not making any mention of the changes to state pension age that make this depiction of choice a little more debatable!

On twitter there was much promotion of the UK’s idea to “post a selfie with an older person today, add the #olderpeoplesday, change the stereotyoe image of ageing in just a day” .  The website showed a hugely positive, smiling ‘action’ shot of older people jumping with hands raised in exuberance at the prospect.  (As an aside this reminded me of the oft-mocked photos of students on exam day, I have tried and failed to find the Guardian article from this summer on this very topic)

Joining the conversation rather late in the day @ageatwork were not alone in wondering whether this ‘selfie with…’ it implied that the ‘older people’ were not capable of taking them on their own.  Indeed our tweet to this effect become one of our most favourited posts!  We were in fact responding to another tweeter who highlighted she felt the idea was patronising prompting another to comment that at least if was better than a previous ‘hug a granny campaign’.

Age at work is all for challenging stereotypes of older (and indeed younger or middle) age but was the selfie campaign a good idea?  Tell us what you think!

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