Today, there’s often a sense of taboo surrounding the subject of old age in our society. However, the Oldyssey project, led by French couple Julia and Clément, breaks down this taboo by celebrating the different forms of solidarity found across the globe. ‘People think it is a sad subject’, says Julia, ‘but this isn’t true’.
On the road since October 2017, they’ve given themselves one year to discover the best initiatives in place that aim to better include elderly people in society, spending a minimum of one month in each destination.
They’ve chosen to visit countries where the demographic transition is already well underway, such as Japan, Canada and the United States. But they also visit countries that are struggling in the midst of dealing with its challenges, such as Brazil, China and Senegal.
The subject of old age is one that touches us all, one way or another. Many people are forced to make decisions about how to deal with the changing needs of loved ones. It’s especially a timely matter to discuss given how demographic models are changing.
‘What’s interesting is that it’s a global trend, all countries are concerned’, Clément tells Culture Trip. ‘But every society adapts itself differently to this trend based on their own culture and traditions’.
Currently, Europe has the greatest percentage of the population aged 60 or over (25 percent), but across the world, these figures are rising at a rate of about 3 percent per year.
‘We think Oldyssey gives the elderly a platform to tell their story, to share their point of view’, says Julia. The videos feature elderly people sharing everything from stories about their daily lives, right through to advice for younger people on how to succeed in love or at work.
In their search for the perfect story, the couple looks for anything that will help fight against stereotypes. ‘We find elderly people that have a passion and are dedicated to it’, says Clément. Recently, they discovered a Gypsy dancer in Rio de Janeiro whose energy was so bountiful that she simply had to be interviewed.
‘She loves dancing and has a lot of energy’, says Julia. ‘She has a very interesting story and when you listen to her, you almost want to grow old just to be like her. She has more energy than me! But we must find a balance between excitement and reality’, Julia insists. ‘Getting old is not only happiness and fun’.
As the world becomes increasingly interconnected thanks to globalisation, it’s easy for families to become increasingly disconnected. When people leave their home city to go to university or to start a new job, the elderly are often left behind.
However, the Oldyssey project hopes to ‘strengthen the link between generations’ by showing society what they have to gain from including them.
‘The stereotype is that the elderly are unproductive. But we want to show this is not true. When we go and speak to the elderly, we ask them about their aspirations and desires. We’ve been surprised at how creative and active they can be’.