October 2020

Breaking down barriers

We believe in building a society that gives people the opportunity to live the life they deserve. These are the stories of two individuals who’ve done exactly that

Middle-aged woman walking through puddle

The average person changes their career between five and seven times during their working life.1 Meet Anita and Anne, two women who changed their career paths to give themselves a happier and healthier future.

“My career has taken a bit of a turn recently”

Meet Anita: “I love nursing and I love to travel – so being able to combine the two has been amazing and has allowed me to go to Israel, France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the United States and Canada. A group of us would even tag holidays on – we went for a month-long tour of the Rocky Mountains and did something similar in Portland, Oregon.

“I also love to learn, which is where my career has taken a bit of a turn recently! I’ve always had a strong faith, so the natural progression for me, from being a nurse, was to become a hospital chaplain. I studied my bachelors part-time while nursing and graduated two years ago, and now I’m doing my masters – I don’t actually need my masters to become a hospital chaplain, but I just love to learn."

“I got the bug, and it snowballed from there”

Meet Anne: “I was working in an office in London at senior board level, but then stopped that to have children. Me and some of the other mums would meet up to do fun, social workouts, and I got the bug. I got my personal training qualification and it snowballed from there.

“Now I’m a full-time personal trainer with a great list of clients, from people keeping fit through pregnancy to people working on balance as they approach their 80s, and everything in between. A lot of it is about helping people to build up their confidence, which is something I suffered with when I became a mum, so I really enjoyed that part of it. Work has got so busy that over the past few years I’ve taken a month out to recharge in Santa Monica, California, which is just incredible.”

There’s more…

In the UK, the average age of someone doing a masters degree is between 27 and 30.2 Anita is 61. The average age of a personal trainer is 38.3 Anne is 62.

If you’re surprised, that’s not surprising. In the UK and beyond, we have inherent, in-built assumptions about what people can and should do based on their age. But Anita and Anne have managed to break the boundaries of age in a society that can often lean towards age-based discrimination. At Legal & General, we’re working hard to tackle ageism, because we believe ageing is something to be celebrated and that everyone should live the life they deserve. 

“People are quite shocked when they hear I’m doing a masters,” says Anita. “They say, ‘At your age, why would you want to?’ And I say, ‘At my age, why wouldn’t I?’ I’ve still got a brain – I want to use it.” One of her classmates has the same attitude. He’s 76.

 “When you get older, you have more time to be able to put into these sorts of things,” Anita continues.” And I think the longer you can keep your brain going with things like this, the better it is for you. It’s better for your mental health and it gives you that sense of achievement.”

For Anne, becoming a personal trainer was as much about her passion for fitness as it was about rebuilding an identity she felt she was losing. “I hated that invisibility cloak of getting older. It’s like you’re not worth anything and it’s hard to get that sense of identity.”

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“Although I’m older, I’m still trying to push boundaries. I’m trying to design my life, rather than let it happen.”
Anne Jacques,
Personal Trainer

Now in her 60s, Anne’s ready for her next challenge. She’s just put her house on the market and is moving to a new city – Bath – where she doesn’t know anyone. “I’m trying to reinvent my life a little bit. A lot of older people feel they’ve never challenged themselves, or they don’t have the confidence to, but it’s nice to try and push that. Although I’m older, I’m still trying to push boundaries,” she says. “I’m trying to design my life, rather than let it happen. People say to me, ‘You’re so brave’, but I just think, what’s the alternative? I’m just doing as much as I can to move forward.”

Our ageing population is only increasing, and that means we need to work harder to guarantee this demographic can achieve the quality and enjoyment of life that they deserve (such as using retirement to start new businesses, as these individuals have done). The first step is breaking down the inherent preconceptions of getting older, and focus on these individuals at the heart of our society, who are so much more than their age.

 

We interviewed Anita and Anne as part of the STOPageism campaign, launched by Later Living community developer Guild Living, which aims to show how ageism negatively affects us and, most importantly, how we can stop it. Find out more about STOPageism here.

Middle-aged woman walking through puddle
June 2020

Getting better with age

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