Aspects of Ageing – Creative Male Ageing
Challenging conventions and exploring new options for older men
Without the discovery of some affordable elixir of life, old age is the most likely inevitability for most of us. About this there is little debate. However, what is now hotly disputed are all the other presumed dismal inevitabilities commonly associated with advancing years: loss of sexual function, diminishing health, mental decline, occupational oblivion, and loss of meaningful self-identity and independence.
The phenomenon of ageing has become a contested space – where different opinions and perspectives are now in contention – especially with the issues of a proposed increased retirement age and the costs of an ageing population now entering the political centre-stage.
There are those who see the ‘afternoon of life’ as a time of new freedom and choices, full of invigorating possibilities. Others are in earnest pursuit of anti-ageing strategies, determined not to age, and some might argue, perpetuating our cultural tendency to over-emphasise youth. Another contingent, often comically portrayed as ‘grumpy’ see little if anything to celebrate about advancing years, and are resigned to ‘waiting for God’.
In view of the now growing evidence of exceptions to the rule across many previously presumed negative elements of ageing, it seems timely to take a fresh look at this whole subject.
Creative Male Ageing challenges the ‘decrepitude and debilitation’ view of ageing, and seeks to determine whether, in reasonable circumstances, ageing men can actually seize the day and make ageing not only less distressing, but a time that is satisfyingly meaningful, healthy, creative, and yes, good.
Though this project aims to winkle out positive themes of ageing, and to discover if there are grounds for a more helpful perspective and a potentially better life and experience for ageing men, it does not guild the lily. Just as there are arguably limiting conventions and stereotypes of ageing that deserve to be challenged, there are of course, also undeniably unpalatable realities of ageing that should not be glossed over or ignored.
In an endeavour to bring into focus some of the more important themes of male ageing, this project has sought to draw together and to give voice to, a broad and varietal range of both expert commentary and lived experience of individual ageing men.
Dr John Ashfield
Creative Male Ageing