Most days I’m fine with donning my invisibility cloak (the uniform of people 60 years and older) and going about my days. I’m content to fly under the radar, doing what I love. However, recently I’ve been reminded that too often the world doesn’t see older women and when it does, it’s with a lot of inaccurate assumptions—supposedly we aren’t good with computers or cell phones, we’re frail, we’re clueless about financial matters and the workplace, and so forth.
Except those caricatures don’t resemble any of the women I know.
I’m 68 and have friends ranging from 60-78. A quick review of approximately twenty women I know turned up a more realistic and positive profile—
- Several friends are still working although most have retired from paid work.
- Some volunteer as nonprofit board members (helping run the world for free).
- Many of my acquaintances volunteer in other ways—at a blood bank, rescuing abandoned dogs, tutoring, at homeless shelters, doing environmental projects, and more.
- The women I know do some or all of these activities: biking, camping, kayaking, hiking, yoga, pickle ball, walking, lifting weights, and swimming.
- Some of my friends are childless. Others are mothers and inspired grandmothers. Although they enjoy grandmothering, it’s just one aspect of their lives.
- Most of us have traveled extensively. Some are probably planning their next adventure right now.
- We are smart, capable people who know how to get stuff done.
- Several have published books and many have published shorter work.
- We enjoy learning new things—maybe tap dancing, a craft like rosemaling, a Coursera class on the psychology of purchase behavior—whatever.
- We know the pros and cons of long-term care insurance, how to time starting Social Security, how to roll over IRAs, write living wills, etc.
- We are fun-loving but not carefree. We have plenty to worry about, but try not to let it swamp us.
- Most of us read several newspapers online and are well-informed about political issues.
- We are philosophical about aches and pains, but doing our best to hold the line and stay healthy.
- We are sympathetic, kind, and good listeners. We have lots of loving advice for each other, but we try to resist dispensing unasked for advice to younger people. Mixed results, there!
- We have good senses of humor, but get tired of being underestimated and don’t suffer fools gladly.
There isn’t a helpless, clueless woman in the bunch.While these women are all wonderful, they aren’t rare exceptions. They’re typical. I wish more people saw us for who we really are—strong, smart, capable, and fun.