In the past few days I have come across two websites purporting to represent older people, one I felt was genuine, the other not.

The first was about a museum in Israel which tries to represent life for older people. As they go round the display visitors are required to wear heavy shoes over their own to represent the problems older people face as the muscles in their legs become weaker. They have similar experiences in other areas. Best of all the guides, who are all trained and paid, are all over 70.  A genuine encounter with ageing.

The other was a group of people who claim to be the experienced voice of older people. The site then listed the different areas in which all these people are employed. Having a whole bunch of people who can quote the title of their jobs and who claim to be old doesn’t ring true to me. My suspicion suggests that their ‘expertise’ comes from having read about ageing, at a time when most of the literature is written by youngsters like themselves. I can’t wait for the day when the authors of books on ageing are older people; they would at least be accurate!

Two of the current authors of accurate books on ageing are Butler and Friedan but they both work (worked) well into their later years. Any work seems to insulate older people from much of the impact of ‘ageism’ although Butler coined this phrase. As part of my research I interviewed 7 older well-known Australians and none mentioned this aspect of ageing. I assume that since they were all well-known people they were recognised and as a result they weren’t treated as lesser beings because of their age.

I hope that one day older people will be regarded just as people, regardless of any wrinkles. Like the rest of the population we will be judged by who we are and what we do as ordinary humans. This is one reason why I am trying to get older people to follow their dreams. This will bring greater happiness to our later years and make it more difficult for the rest of society to treat us as lesser beings. We are lucky in that computers make it easier for us to overcome the physical problems old age often brings.

When we start to stand up for ourselves the fake web sites claiming to be ‘experts’ in ageing will be recognised for what they are. I wonder how these people will feel when they genuinely become older people and are treated as second class citizens. The trouble is the world of ageing is expanding rapidly and these fakes are trying to cash in on it.