“… When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
 You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.”
~~ Bob Dylan

The Invisible Man

In an episode of the TV series, Midsomer Murders, two characters in a residential facility for elders are talking, and one says that as he has become older he has become invisible. By that he means he has become unimportant. He attributes his fading presence to the facts that he is no longer working (a place where he found identity), his family members are either dead or not living nearby, he has few friends, and his reduced financial resources limit his activities.

Being invisible used to be an attribute of old people. In fact, Agatha Christie wrote a number of novels about Miss Marple, an elderly woman who solved crimes because she was old and invisible. People would speak out their secrets when she was nearby assuming she was a harmless, doddering old fool.

With the growth of the older population, AARP and all that, I wonder how prevalent that notion is today? And if the stereotype is still prevalent at what age point does it apply? I mean when does invisibility creep up? When one is 80? 90? 100?

Frank Kaiser offers this timeframe, “By the time you’re 85, hardly anyone ever sees you anymore. Even your family loses track of you for a day or two each week.” Hilary Mantel sets the bar at above 50 for women and she laments that the older women of her childhood “ran the world” but now even a “reference to ones age is not neutral but a sort of accusation.”

My circle of friends here in the Hill Country tends to be people in the 60 to 70 year old range but they/we are bright, strong, active, and not harmless, doddering nor invisible.



  1. Bob Dylan. Like A Rolling Stone, 1965, 1993. http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/rolling-stone
  2. Blue Herrings, Episode 11 of Midsomer Murders, Bentley Productions, 2000. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0647477
  3. Frank Kaiser. Invisible? When Did I Become Invisible? Suddenly Senior, 2005. http://www.suddenlysenior.com/invisible.html
  4. Hilary Mantel. Women over 50 – the invisible generation. The Guardian, Aug 2009. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/04/hilary-mantel-older-women


Movie poster for The Invisible Man (1933). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The-Invisible-Man.jpg