The time is long gone when it was taken for granted that anyone over 50 was on the scrap heap. In an aging society, the “old” represent a more important grouping, especially when it comes to responsibly shaping a viable society for the future. As a result of demographic change, the over-50s have a “special” role to play. First of all, it needs to be said that there is no longer any such thing as “the old”. A 50-year-old and a 65-year-old or a 65-year-old and an 80-year-old have just as much or as little in common as a 10-year-old with a 25-year-old or a 25-year-old with a 40-year-old. In as much as the term “old age” needs to be clearly defined, the categories of young senior citizens (50-64 years), pensioners (65-79 years) and fourth agers (over 80 years of age) can be used, and in some cases major differences exist between these categories.
What motivates these generations?
Studies conducted by the Foundation show that dreams survive into old age. However, these dreams do not relate to material goals but mainly prioritise quality of life: “remain mentally healthy”, “maintain bonds with family and friends”, “not to be alone in old age” or “be active and adventurous” are the hopes that many young senior citizens, pensioners and fourth agers have for their future. Independence and security are therefore the primary concerns of the older generations in our society. Meaningful tasks that can be used to structure their days are particularly important. Consequently, the majority are interested in voluntary roles but are currently only active in such roles to a limited extent. The contradiction between desire and reality can be resolved in some cases by improving the way in which the target group is approached.
The great (social) potential of the older generations has not been sufficiently exploited by either marketing departments in industry or by policy makers. The focus of any future action must therefore be on providing systematic support and creating the appropriate framework conditions.
Never before in history could people get so old and yet still be as fit as they are today. This should be seen as an opportunity to create a new vision for civil society through active participation and involvement.