COMMENT:

Dear Baby Boomers.

Ageing is a privilege. Please stop complaining about it.

This isn't an attack. You're a wonderful lot and we millennials adore you. You've loved us and taught us and given us life and we're so grateful. Truly, we are.

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But I'm compelled to ask: How grateful are you?

Because I'm hearing a lot of complaining from your generation and it's mostly about getting older. Everything from hot flushes and cataracts to wrinkles and stiff joints.

I know it's not all boomers — but it's a lot of you.

I bet even if you're not one of them, you know the kind of over-55 I'm talking about who seems to love to complain.

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Me at 33. Didn’t I do good? 🖤

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We often come across them in waiting rooms and in Facebook groups. They love Facebook. It's a kind of millennial-given gift for Baby Boomers who like to whine.

The universal downside of getting older is that our bodies start to deteriorate.

Aren't we fortunate then, to live in a wealthy country with one of the world's very best healthcare systems? The treatment options available to us have never been better.

Struggling with the symptoms of menopause? There are supplements, medications, herbs, exercises, essential oils, books and even apps that can help with that.

Feeling less than agile? Pilates and yoga are fabulous, accessible and suitable for everyone. As far as hair loss and wrinkles go, is it so ridiculous to suggest we embrace these symbols of a long life well lived?

Because a long life is a thing to be appreciated and celebrated. Just ask any person facing the alternative.

My friend Caitlin Moorhouse was 34 and had just given birth to her first child when she was diagnosed with incurable, stage 4 bowel cancer.

At that time, she had a 5 per cent chance of living another five years. Unsurprisingly, she's thought a lot about getting older and what it means to her.

"I'm constantly surrounded by older people at treatment," she said.

"As a society our narrative around ageing is one of loss. And there are certainly losses that come with ageing but there are also incredible benefits — to have seen your children grow up being a significant one.

"Those of us who are sick are experiencing those losses associated with age but without the benefits of getting older.

"We're juggling parenting young children alongside the loss of our career, our looks, our fertility, our sense of agency, our earning capacity and our cancer friends as one-by-one they fall.

"And unlike older people, we are dealing with these losses largely alone as our peers are still in the prime of their lives."

It's been three-and-a-half years since Caitlin was diagnosed and she continues to live with hope, enthusiasm and gratitude.


There are thousands of young Australians with cancer — some curable and some not — who endure dreadfully invasive, painful and risky treatments just to get more time.

They're bargaining for life: trading their hair, breasts, reproductive organs, limbs, eyebrows, in the hope of a longer life. Or a slower death.

The blessing of a long life is one that shouldn't be taken for granted. We don't need to look too hard to see that young people die tragically and horrifically every day.

Everyone knows of a young person whose life was heartbreakingly terminated by illness, accident or violence. It happens too frequently but it's our reality. There's simply no guarantee any of us get to grow old.

It's time to reframe the conversation about ageing. And perhaps that starts with how we talk to ourselves.

Instead of saying, "I have to have cataract surgery," try saying, "I get to have a procedure to treat a condition that once could have made me blind."

Let's stop cursing our bodies and worrying about the changes we see in the mirror and start appreciating the gift of life.

Australians over 55 have a lot to be grateful for. This land of plenty and has been kind to your generation.

You were raised in good economic times. You could buy a home when the average house price was five times the average earning income.

For young people today, it's almost out of reach.

By many measures, the generations that follow you are set to have a rougher time.

The burden of chronic diseases is rapidly increasing worldwide, we're facing serious economic uncertainty and an environment which desperately needs to be rescued.

Baby Boomers, you are the lucky generation. You are living the dream of many, many young people for whom what you have seems entirely out of reach.

Please be grateful for it.


This article was first published on news.com.au.