Cultural perspectives can have a huge effect on our experience of getting older.Robert Cummins
Robert Cummins, one of our Age of Experience group members, writes about his thoughts about ageing and how it is perceived differently in different cultures.
Robert is an avid traveller and a recent trip to Zambia, and conversations with ex-pats there sparked his curiosity about the subject.
While I was there I got talking to one of their friends called Lyn who also immigrated to Zambia several decades ago. Now in her early 70s, our conversation turned to ageing and the differences of how age and ageing is perceived in Zambia compared to the UK.
Lyn commented that she wouldn't like to come back to the UK because she's certain she would be 'labelled' old, whereas is Zambia she is simply 'Lyn'.
It made me think about different approaches to ageing across the world and so I started looking into other cultures and their attitudes to ageing.
Did you know:
Having started my conversation with Lyn in Zambia, and doing this digging, I came across a 2013 research paper: The Changing Privileges and Challenges of Older People in Contemporary African Society, by Noah Abanyam, Department of Sociology, University of Mkar, Nigeria.
It states that before having regular contact with the western world, older people in African societies were highly valued and seen as having accumulated "knowledge and wisdom, which they used to settled disputes, integrate the society and educate the young." Formal education introduced by the West challenged the traditional system of caring for older people and affected how older people are perceived in society.
I think it's important to consider how older people see themselves in society.