Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More on Ageism

Ageism Defined

Ageism is arbitrary discrimination on the basis of chronological age.

Ageism is as serious and pervasive as racism and sexism.

Ageism is harmful to all age groups, and oppresses both the old and the young. It deprives both groups of power and status and the right to control their own lives and destinies.

The greatest handicap associated with old age is the ageist barriers and prejudices imposed on the old by society’s orientation to youth.

We have been conditioned to despise and devalue our own experiences, skills, gray hair and wrinkles.
Many have been so brainwashed by this thinking that we rarely admit our true age and try to keep alive the youth cult by lies, self-deception and futile efforts to look young.

The subject of age affects all persons: we are becoming older. Powerlessness and alienation affect young as well as old in ways which are destructive.

Examples of Ageism
  • Black balloon birthday parties
  • “You don’t look 40”--- or whatever age
  • Mandatory retirement
  • Limited positive roles in TV and movies for older people
  • Lower ticket costs for older adults for movies
  • Seating old people away from the active, entry area in a restaurant
  • Not being waited on in line/getting passed by for others who came after you
  • “Terrible twos” used to describe a vital life stage of growing independence
  • Dreading being a parent of teenagers
  • People in their twenties being told they are too young to work with “senior
  • Lying about one’s age for fear of negative perceptions or treatment or to be
    eligible for some benefit
  • Absence of older models in advertising (clothing, cars, etc.)
  • Lack of old people in position of influence, decision-making
  • Efforts to create sub-minimum wage for teen jobs
  • Assumption that young people are computer whizzes and older people are
  • Stereotype that youth are drug addicts or gang members
  • Cosmetics focused on anti-aging
 Parallel Myths of Youth and Elders
  • Deemed too young or too old to contribute
  • Take too many drugs
  • Are unproductive
  • Should not /cannot have sex
  • Don’t have money
  • Don’t know what they are talking about (so can be discounted)
  • Want to be left alone or only want be with “own kind”
Other Myths About Aging
  • You become less attractive the older you get
  • Losing memory is a normal part of growing old
  • Mental ability declines with age
  • Old people are physically unable to function
  • Aging is terrible
  • Old people are bored
Actions to Combat Ageism
  • Throw yourself a birthday party
  • Stop lying about your age
  • Let your hair be its natural color
  • Quit complimenting people on how young they look
  • Write to your local news media when a headline or cartoon is ageist
  • Monitor advertising—write complaints, boycott products/places
  • Voice your objections
  • Educate others
  • Challenge stereotypes about age
  • Refuse to buy derogatory birthday cards
  • Research, monitor, and question the responsiveness of institutions to age
  • Get to know people across age boundaries
  • Don’t patronize people who are old
  • Don’t mix illness with aging
  • Be aware of language that is stereotyping
  • Don’t tell jokes that make fun of growing old
  • Challenge ageism 

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