surinenglish

Life after the age of 60

I sometimes get the feeling that the world is entirely focused on those who are middle-aged, young adults or children. It ignores the fact that the world is actually made up of older people and will remain so, purely because of the numbers: in Malaga there are now nearly 300,000 people over the age of 65 and this section of society is growing more than any other.

We talk about the elderly as if they were 'a problem that has to be managed', and they are considered part of the 'inactive population', along with students and housewives. This is strange, because they often take their grandchildren to and from school, cook them meals because the parents are too busy, and look after them because their parents work long hours. Elderly people also give money they can ill afford to help their children out, even though it leaves them next to nothing for themselves. Absurdly, though, their opinion seems to count less than that of those who earn a salary; it's as if having a pension and not being up-to-date with the latest advances in technology, means that what they think is not as important, or no more so than anybody else. They do, however, have more experience of life than those in their thirties or forties who believe they are the best because they have a profile on social media and are users of new businesses which they manage via an app.

The elderly are under pressure now. We are told we all have to retire later because things can't go on as they are, and there will have to be major changes if the pension system is to be sustainable. Despite this, there are few workers over the age of 60 in many private companies: they replace them with two people in their twenties and thirties and pay them lower salaries. They leave the over-60s in the street at an age when it is easier to find a partner for life than a six-month contract. And, because labour reform enables us to do so, we'll carry on cheating the system until one day, we will discover that it has become the victim of a problem that has been right in front of our nose, all the time, but we didn't want to see it.

Pensioners are protesting as much as young people these days, but they nearly always vote and they are more likely to support a different political party if it pays more attention to their demands. So it would be a good idea to treat them well, even for such an egotistical reason as gaining votes.

On Friday a new exhibition opened at the CAC, showing the work of 84-year-old Rose Wylie, who was 'discovered' by the world of art when she was 76, after a traditional life dedicated to her family and children. When she was young, her art teacher made it clear what her future would be: “You're a girl, you can't be an artist,” he said. Luckily, she is one of those people who believe there is still plenty of life in the fourth age. I'm sure the mayor of Malaga, about to stand for election again at 75, will be reassured by this exhibition.