Opinion Article for Millioneyes Magazine, February 2024

Recently I completed 60 years of my restless mental existence. According to the coordinates of the WHO marker, I gained the status of an elder, which surprised me. Although I am fully convinced that I do not repeatedly articulate the same conversations, such as "This is not how it used to be!" or "In the old days, yes, that was it...", and that there is also no prevailing need for a daily nap, in that sense, I will always be considered an elder. In my own defense, I add that I do not schedule dinners for six in the evening and I also do not engage in the intense activity of counting down to Social Security retirement benefits. However, no matter what I may add in my defense, it does not remove me from that alignment. However, it is necessary to understand that this elder condition accumulates the experimental value of a lifetime, like the confident and persistent gesture of hands wielding needles, guiding the thread to the knot and this, to the apron stitch. Age is an equation of time and mastery, capable of producing experience, leading to knowledge and understanding in the view of life and decision-making. Despite everything, it is important to recognize that it is important to avoid stereotypes because the concept of elderliness may not always be associated with the virtues of knowledge and the passion that life experience accumulates. Just like the apron, the intensity and conviction of the needle movement produce the knot, and this, can be more or less resistant, similar to the diversity in human beings.

Civilizational progress has brought new realities. Automation and AI are seen as opportunities for digital natives, but for older generations, the rhythms of change and transformation in processes generate anxiety, disruption, and the perception of incapacity. These factors are silent barriers to maintaining interest in active life and integrating individuals over 60 into the workforce. The misunderstanding of these phenomena, both on the side of organizations and on the side of workers, leads to pressure for early abandonment of professional activity as soon as early retirement allows. The waste of talent and value, above 50 years old, has consequences in terms of mental health and the financing system of Social Security.

This reflection exposes the weaknesses of the system and aims to alert to the opportunity that active aging represents today in the job market. The applicability of experience and the benefits of accumulated knowledge, unique to age, which are hardly found in the young population. Overcoming Ageism prejudice is an effort that should come from organizations and central governments, establishing inclusion policies, celebrating the diversity of values and experiences at all ages, targeting a fairer society.

AASO, relying on its mediator status of good practices and promoter of inclusion and equity, aims to open the discussion on this sensitive and unavoidable topic in society and essential for the short-term functioning of companies.

Rui Motty

President and Co-Founder AASO

Optometrist and CEO Optocentro

Vice-President CCPM

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