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Perspective changes with age

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Bill Storie, CEO of the Olderhood Group

As part of the Bermuda’s Demographic Challenge series running all this week in The Royal Gazette, Bill Storie will be writing for a series of five columns to view the issues related to our ageing population through the eyes of different age groups. This is the first of those articles.

This five-part series will identify and comment on the issues, concerns and challenges of people in Bermuda (and around the world for that matter). It will address the various “elements of life” — principally money, health, employment, family, lifestyle, personal development and everyday occurrences and habits. It will seek to discover not just the components of them but will attempt to describe the emotional and personal impact of them on people’s lives.

It will not veer too far into political decisions and consequences but will rather explore the evolution of socio-economic issues which may from time to time, be driven by the decisions of leaders and organisations in our society. It will attempt to take a neutral posture on current events and perspectives in our daily life.

Over the next four days, this series will look at the impacts on four different age groups: 18 to 35, 35 to 50, 50 to 65, and over 65.

It will rely on official statistics and forecasts regarding population, ageing and demographic analysis. It will be a combination of the author’s research, viewpoints and suggestions plus private conversations with various members of the public (anonymously) from all walks of local life.

It is not intended to be a guide book or a road map but rather an exposé of the complexity of feelings and opinions on those elements of life as seen through the eyes of different age groups. The millennial considers the desire, yet concerns, of buying a house, while the baby-boomer generally owns their house and perhaps has even settled the mortgage. Thus, while the “element” of owning property is common to both age groups, the perspective is different.

As people get older their personal and family circumstances change. Their health changes. Their financial condition changes. Their family responsibilities change. Their employment may change. Their social life changes. Issues of choice and acceptance are different one to the other, yet our core values typically remain the same throughout our life.

People in the workforce know how to evaluate job opportunities regardless of age, although their analysis and conclusions change as they get older. Money will always be the underlying factor, but in our earlier years we may be more enthusiastic about promotions and climbing the ladder, whereas when we are more settled, our tendency may be to consolidate our position and financial security. Taking job-related risks in life tends to slow down as we age.

We may have different opinions about how things should be done in our community, but broadly speaking we all share the same objectives. Conversation and debate, if done rationally and reasonably, are the cornerstones of a stable society.

Understanding the views of others, either through direct one-on-one conversation or through reading of reports or studies or through media broadcasting, must surely be the objective. Yet sometimes the views of certain sections of society, for one reason or another, are drowned out by the more vociferous among us. That’s unfortunate.

Everyone has an opinion, everyone has a voice, and everyone should be heard.

So, this series will attempt to share the opinions of a wide cross-section of our community through interview or observation. It will take each “element of life” and pinpoint the aspects of each one by age group. It will seek to establish commonality of opinion albeit through younger and older eyes, to see if there is common ground to share opinions, but more so to realise how people of other age groups think about those elements.

Perhaps by realising how others feel, we may be able to have a better understanding of why “they think differently to me”. Maybe we will be able to better appreciate that one group is no more correct about something than ourselves or other groups.

Maybe grandchildren will have a better understanding of why their grandparents were brought up in a different age with a different upbringing. Grandparents didn’t have social media to get information, so they found other ways — some better, some worse, some simply very awkward — but they got there.

Maybe commercial organisations will realise that the needs of one generation are different from the needs of other generations. Financial literacy, for example, requires more fundamental descriptions for the “common man”, be they young or old, be they tech-savvy or not. We are not “one size fits all”.

This series is intended to raise awareness of the range and variety of thoughts and feelings throughout the various sectors and demographics of our community.

Receiving better information about others and providing others the ability to understand how we feel, may benefit all of us to understand, appreciate and address the concerns and anxieties of our society overall.

“O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us

To see oursels as others see us!”

— Robert Burns, born January 25, 1759

Bill Storie is CEO of The Olderhood Group Ltd, a Bermudian company and exclusive Bermuda partner of Career Partners International, with more than 350 offices worldwide. He is also Producer and Host of “The Ozone” a weekly radio show on Magic 102.7FM. He can be reached at www.olderhoodgroup.com or Bill@olderhood.com