Most adults over 60 feel ‘unseen’ in society due to their age, survey shows


LONDON — Adults over 60 feel “unseen” in society due to their age, according to research. A OnePoll study of 2,000 British adults found those in their seventh decade feel most ignored when clothes shopping, going out to dinner, or having a drink at a bar.

Our elders may be wiser, but they don’t think that matters much to younger adults. The alarming poll also shows that 68 percent of baby boomers feel they have valuable untapped knowledge going to waste. More than half (52 percent) say younger generations simply aren’t interested in hearing what they have to say. In fact, 86 percent fear certain crafts may disappear entirely if their wisdom isn’t passed on.

But the sentiment doesn’t carry over. The poll shows 87 percent of young adults are keen to learn from the older generations.

“The research has given an incredibly revealing insight into the thoughts and feelings of those over 60 – as well as those much younger than them,” says Dawn Roberts, clinical director at Specsavers Home Visits, which commissioned the research in association with u3a (University of the Third Age). “It has shown how changes in society can leave people feeling unseen and unheard, and questioning what they can offer to other generations. However, thankfully, there is a strong appetite from younger generations to learn from the older generation, so it’s just a matter of finding a way of making this happen.”

The over-60 crowd wants to connect with young adults

Over-60s feel alienated by younger generations due to a different perception of manners and a lack of understanding of their experience. Nearly half feel entirely “out of touch” with their younger counterparts. Social media, music and the value of vocabulary were also among the things the older crowd felt most out of touch with.

One in six boomers even claim they have not had an in-depth conversation with someone much younger than themselves in more than a year.

However, young adults feel their older relatives and friends could educate them when it comes to money, history and cooking. Others would welcome the opportunity to learn about general home maintenance and how to behave in certain social situations. And those in their 60s would like their younger counterparts to help them understand technology, culture and social media.

It also emerged a third of younger adults have had an in-depth conversation with a relative over the age of 65 within the last week. Interestingly, 76 percent do agree their older relatives are somewhat unseen in society.

According to the data, nearly half will strike up conversation with an older person in a bid to stop them feeling invisible, while 46 percent will always make the effort to say hello in passing. But six in ten fear they’ll one day end up feeling similarly unseen in society when they get older.

“There is so much knowledge and wisdom just waiting to be tapped into in the 60 plus age group,” says Roberts.

Top 10 topics younger adults would like to learn from older generations

1. History
2. Cooking
3. Parenthood
4. Money
5. Culture
6. Health
7. Love
8. Marriage
9. Philosophy
10. DIY

South West News Service writer Steve Richmond contributed to this report.

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