When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Can You Be Old And Ageist?

New research, which included 80 in-depth interviews with older people, found that a surprising number look down on their fellow seniors.

Can You Be Old And Ageist?

One of the problems with retirement villages is that they tend to treat “older people” as a homogeneous category

Sam Carr

“We don’t want to be tripping over Zimmer frames all the time,” said John*, 73. He clearly felt frustrated and had a strong objection to the older, more frail residents in his retirement village. John and his wife, Jean, had moved to the retirement village about a year ago. They were clearly not expecting to encounter really elderly people when they moved in. “It’s depressing,” he continued, “to see these people, who really ought to be in a nursing home, or in care.”

In our research – published in The Gerontologist – we carried out 80 in-depth interviews with older people about their experiences of living in retirement villages across the UK and Australia. We were particularly interested in why people sought out retirement living and how their needs matched or contradicted those of other residents. We did not expect to find such high levels of resentment among residents – but we did.

Retirement living is big business. It is estimated that around 5% of Australians, 6% of Americans, and 1% of UK citizens over 65 live in a retirement village. Researchers have argued that one of the problems with retirement villages is that they tend to treat “older people” as a homogeneous category, as more or less “the same” simply because they are over 60. The reality is that residents have extremely diverse needs and span up to three decades – from 60 to over 90.

Contrasting and conflicting needs

Some of the people we talked to (we called them the “Peter Pans”) clearly chose retirement living to keep the perils of old age at bay and prolong midlife for as long as they could. David, 76, and his wife, Pam, 73, had moved to a retirement village in the midlands because they wanted to maintain a sense of being active, fit, healthy and independent. David told us:

"We are still reasonably fit, you see. We’ve got a strong stable background of family and friends. We hope this is a place which will be easy to live in and where we can do the things we want to and feel fit and healthy."

'The older people make you feel older'

In contrast, others chose the same retirement village because they were concerned about increasing frailty and deteriorating health and sought a community that they felt could support them in these challenges.

Peter, 78, and his wife Sue, 76, had moved to the village to cope with Sue’s increasing dependency due to a dementia-related illness. Peter told us: “Well, it all stems really from Sue’s illness… and the problems that have occurred, and we thought this would be the answer… I was under the impression that’s what we would find by moving here.”

Some people clearly chose retirement living to keep the perils of old age at bay

Philippe Leone

Elderly ageism

These contrasting sets of needs were often in conflict. People who had moved to retirement villages to prolong midlife and to feel part of an active, independent community, were not always accepting of frailer residents.

Jane, 72, from a UK retirement village, suggested that “the older people make you feel older. They can’t do as much… we do help them, but we can’t be living our life around them.”

Paul, 74, called for a more selective sales process. He told us: “I don’t think the people [here] are vetted enough. I think the main criteria is you’ve got the money. I don’t necessarily think there ought to be more support – I think there ought to be less people who require support here.”

Some people who had moved to feel more supported in their vulnerability and frailty sometimes felt marginalised and unsupported. Peter told us, tearfully, that it hadn’t turned out as he and his wife had hoped. “In some ways, now, I just feel she’s a bit like a leper really – because no one actually wants to get close to her here,” he said.

Why should we resent a percentage of the population that we will probably be part of in the future?

But there were others who demonstrated a more accepting attitude towards older residents. Ralph, 72, recognised that he might be more frail himself in the future and welcomed support from fellow residents: “We are currently the people to whom the neighbours say, ‘can you help with this or do that?’ Take me somewhere or do that?‘ But I think one day it will work the other way round. I think maybe when we get older, we will become dependent on others here too.”

Cultural geographer, Kevin McHugh has argued that retirement communities reflect and sell compelling narratives about successful ageing. These narratives, he argued, are “defined as much by the absent image (old, poor folks) as by the image presented: handsome, healthy, comfortably middle-class 'seniors’, busily filling sun-filled days”.

A lot of these retirement communities are often so vaguely defined that they appear to offer all things to all people. But they can only be a desirable model if they recognise and accommodate the diverse needs of that community.

As Swedish gerontologist, Håkan Jönson, has argued, it makes little sense to resent more frail, vulnerable older people – why should we resent a percentage of the population that we will probably be part of in the future?

*All names have been changed to protect anonymity.The Conversation

Sam Carr, Senior Lecturer in Education with Psychology, University of Bath. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGOTikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest