Almost every Sunday my family gets together and has a big dinner cooked by my wonderful mum. For those who know me, they understand that food is a top priority. One of my mates complains that he never sees me when I am not eating! But it is not food, nor is it the importance of the company which I have chosen to write about today. Instead I would like to get your thoughts on a TV programme I happen to come across on ITV called Off Their Rockers.
The programme is intended to be comical and provoke a laugh. It could be looked at from an angle of empowerment, showing that older adults as actors, comedians and that a sense of humour is transient across all ages or it could be seen to be portraying older people in a negative light and not supporting the concept of active ageing.
Community Network works with many groups of older adults across the UK (see our case studies), connecting them together to ensure they stay socially connected and maintain their voice, for better health and well-being. We recognise that health is as much about social relationships as it is the physical condition of the human body. As a result the way people interact with each other and perceive themselves and those around them, has an impact on their sense of identity and health.
In working with older adults and listening to their views on ageism, one could see this programme as ageist. One may ask if instead of people laughing with the show they will see older people as dated relics to be the subject of ridicule. Could the show’s sketches of older people as less able or incompetent lead to people fearing ageing?
Therefore I ask you, what do you think? Perhaps you think there should be a “Nan Patrol” in every local park because it shows that older adults are tougher than you may expect, or perhaps you find an older woman disrobing by a pond as she asks a young passer-by to go skinny dipping with her, is wildly inappropriate and disrespectful regardless of age.
Finally, how do we best project positive images of ageing to encourage more active, community engagement across all generations?