Life & Culture

Open Thread Follow Up: Really?

Last Sunday we opened the threads up to collect stories about the misgivings, misconceptions and just plain ageist ideas others have about older people…and you had some gems.

Some were funny (especially what happens when we stop dying our hair), others were less so.  Some commented about how younger people are surprised that we exercise, enjoy sports (even into our 90’s!) or appreciate fashion (but don’t appreciate being ignored by retail salespeople), and yes even continue to enjoy sex. And, of course, there was a comment about age discrimination while job-hunting.

We’ll leave the comments open so more people can share their experiences. What do other people seem to get wrong about growing older?  Is it that we’re all rich?  Or feeble? Or tech-phobic? What was your encounter with ageism, intentional or not?  Tell us your story in the comments!



Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send your suggestions for Open Threads to her at



18 responses to “Open Thread Follow Up: Really?

  1. Went to TOPS supermarket to purchase non-alcohol “beer”. Despite reminding the cashier that it was n/a, we were seniors and ID was not required, we were prevented from purchasing it until my husband’s licence was scanned. There was no signage re: N/A purchase requirements and the scan was done without his permission. Tops Corp. denied wrong doing and failed to even offer an apology for our time consuming, mortifying experience. How can seniors affect necessary changes to arbitrary, unpublished corp. nonsense, designed my knuckle heads and garner some well deserved respect from businesses?

  2. At 76 I will be an actress in a movie about a woman who reaches for new beginnings after widowhood. I am co-writing this with a 26 year old filmmaker who met me while I was jumping with 4 lb rope. I am inter first film.
    I do not lecture to young people.
    I write a blog called savyatseventy. Just google the word and my blog is on top. I don not go places with other women. If I want to hear music in a restaurant I go by myself and invariably get invited to join a bunch of guys who are relaxing.
    The blog is mostly about life in Israel. Jerusalem is my city for the last 12 years. Wonderful place to retire to. I am very fortunate, thank G-d. You are welcome to contact me on your next visit to Jerusalem.
    Today I just greeted a group from Holland who are the first visitors to the hotel on meh corner since Corona.
    Every time I am on a bus I am offered a seat, which I generally refuse. Israelis love to speak with Anglos. I have cultivated friendships with women in their 20’s,30’s etc.
    Men not so much because I like my single life after 53 years of marriage.
    The young ones have trouble keeping up with me. It’s not a wonder if one keeps doing what they enjoy.

  3. I am 70 years old and a member of Senior Planet. I had to make a sign to get on the bus in the front door because the back step is too high. Some of the bus drivers still don’t want to let me on the bus, telling me I don’t look like a senior.

    What is a senior suppose to look like???

  4. Last summer, I competed in a gymnastics meet. The young, local reporter was astonished as we conducted our interview. He was nearly giddy at the thought of my mom, 90 years old, also participated in the meet. His article was lighthearted and amusing, but respectful. But I let him know that lots of retirement age people are in the local Planet Fitness everyday, working out because we enjoy the activity and its benefits. Several of those people approached me in the gym and thanked me for speaking up for a whole segment of our society that is so often overlooked and dismissed. Being in my 60’s (and mom in her 90’s) is no reason to give up on any activity…sports, gardening, sex, etc. We can do it all if we embrace the possibilities.

  5. Well to heck with what others think. Be yourself. I live in a large Senior Community. We have those that conform to the stereotypes and many like myself who do not. There are lots of us that run around in T-shits and shorts, work in the resident garden if we can, take exercise classes, work in the wood or ceramics shops, etc. We ask the younger staff (many college age or young married folk) to address us by our first names, not as Mr, Mrs, or whatever. We may be getting old and creaky in years, but not necessarily in spirit. Take this advice from an older but not necessarily wiser guy, I’m 92. Russ

  6. I had been in the fashion, decorating business my whole adult life. In my 70’s and i thought I was still attractive, I went clothes shopping with my daughter. From the minute we entered the saleslady focused on my daughter. She never looked or addressed me.
    I was the one shopping and paying. I educated her and left

  7. I am a 50-year-old woman and I just moved to South Australia from New York City late last year. The views of ageing here are SO incredibly different, and not for the better. Aussies call seniors “oldies”, which is obviously a word that is so frowned upon — and rightly so — in the States. My step-kids call me grandma because I listen to ’80s music and complain about my sore back. My 11-year-old stepdaughter says I should pack my bags and go to a nursing home! She’s just being ‘playful’, but trust me, she got an earful about ageism when she said that. Some of the ageist comments I hear at work (a senior services non-profit!) would not fly in the States and would probably get people fired. I miss Senior Planet so much — I used to volunteer at the NYC Senior Planet and write for the website. I always knew what a special, age-positive place it is, but I appreciate it more than ever now that I am away. Footnote: I am very happy in Australia with my new family and laid-back way of life, despite the country needing to do some (a lot of) work on its attitude towards seniors. But it is my mission to change a few things here about attitudes towards ageing! I miss you all and keep up with the amazing goings-on at Senior Planet! What a sensational place! Love to all, please be safe. I’ll come visit when I’m in town!

    1. I am 72, still play tennis, not the (Serena ) type smile. I get on my mini trampoline 4 days a week.
      I know a lot younger women who wish they had the stamina I have. But want to call you mama to put you in your place or baby or boo etc. I’m not your mama your baby or your boo, do not address me as such.

      Most of them are those who were not taught respect. The ones who were, we develope immediate comradeship because I’m not trying to compete with them.
      I give respect I demand it. I admire you very much.

      1. I used to hate it when someone ( usually a guy) called me “mama” or “mami”. I would respond, “I’m not your mommy.” Finally someone got it through my thick skull that it was a term of respect. I still hate it, but I’ve learned to shut up and accept the intention behind it!

  8. My funniest encounter with ageism:
    At the age of 59, I decided to quit dying my hair to light brown & go gray. People commented on how pretty my hair blended in gray like highlights.
    While vacationing at my youngest daughters, I was sitting on the couch watching a movie with the grand kids. I had my four year old grandson snuggled up next to me. He looks up at me & says “Grandma, why are you like that?”. Unsure of what he meant, I answered “Like what?” He replies, “Old!”
    My daughter & I looked at each other & busted out laughing!!! Stumped by a 4 year old! Being we only get to see them twice a year, he only remembers me with dyed hair so I guess we better do video chats more often! LOL!!

  9. I stopped coloring my hair years ago so I was getting the senior discount on my lattes year before I qualified for the discount. A humorous anecdote. Not humorous is hearing from a recruiter; “Listen, off the record, I know it’s discriminatory and unfair, but I can’t place older candidates. It’s not me it’s the clients.” My response each time: Yup. It is indeed discriminatory and you are on the record. I wish I had emailed each one of those knuckleheads the fee paid by my current employer to the recruiter who sent me on the interview that got me a fabulous job offer. We’re seasoned, experienced, able to leap tall buildings and work with managers who are decades young than us .

  10. I’m glad you started this conversation, Virge. Yes, I’ve been fighting the ageist stereotype that we’ve “aged out” of sexual interest, desire, capacity for va-va-voom. Thank you for giving me a platform here at Senior Planet to talk about senior sex.

    “What do other people seem to get wrong about growing older?” A pet peeve of mine is all the insulting advice about clothes and hairstyles that older women shouldn’t wear and how we shouldn’t act/ talk/ think. Hey, by now we own our decisions! That’s annoying, but what’s truly insidious is the message that our bodies are no longer attractive or desirable if we have wrinkles and sags. We need to fight this with body acceptance and by speaking out when we encounter ageism. We don’t need to look “younger” — we need to wear our age proudly.

    1. Joan: Good comments, but it is not only the young who are conditioned to see seniors in a certain way, it is also most seniors who want to conform to the conditioned image that our society continues to expect. Most believe they must conform in dress, grooming, thinking, beliefs and acting like those around them. They must go where seniors go, blindly accept their doctor evaluations of their health, and rush to their caregivers to get the latest medications that fill the TV viewing time of most seniors. A doctor friend stated his biggest problem with his senior patients is that they come to him and insist on a prescription for a particular medication they saw promoted on TV, while the doctor tries to tell them it is not right for them, all too often without success. My rebellious streak causes me to stand out in the crowds of seniors, well groomed, no hats or glasses, classy dresser, even working in the garden, reading several books a month, little and very select TV, busy as a writer with humanitarian projects, no doctors, no medications, no history of illness, eat healthy and exercise, enjoy and love being with people (mostly ignoring the fears and focus on Corona Virus) moving forward with my life as I feel I desire and want my life to be while listening to my heart, my intuition, instead of the opinions of others trying to conform and condition me. A few days will celebrate 84 years of this great life.

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