The term “ageism” has been around since Robert N. Butler, M.D. coined the phrase in 1969. Exactly what is ageism, and how does ageism affect older adults? Is ageism illegal? Are there ways to stop ageism?
Ageism is discrimination, prejudice, or stereotyping against a segment of the population based strictly upon their age.
Our society is changing, and there are several groups who are feeling the sting of discrimination and prejudice. Ageism is a word that has evolved in these changing times. That question is “How does ageism affect the elderly?”
The effects of ageism against the elderly are far reaching. People who are getting older begin to feel a sense of loss and despair as a result of the negativity associated with ageism.
The effects of ageism on the elderly can result in segregation and unfair treatment of older people who are longing to remain vital, relevant, and respected in the world they live in.
Older adults may not move as quickly, stand as tall, or see as well as they once did. Sometimes these inevitable characteristics of aging result in unkind remarks in the grocery line, airport or other public place. Such comments lead to feelings of worthlessness, fear, poor self-esteem and rejection.
Getting older does not mean you no longer have value or that you aren’t relevant.
Coco Chanel was still a vibrant part of the fashion industry at the age of 80. Look at the politicians you see on the daily news. Can you count how many of them are over the age of 65?
How about Mick Jagger, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Betty White and Prince Charles? They are all over 70 and still going strong!
Here are some ways to prevent ageism or eliminate ageism as we journey through the winter of our lives:
- Have a voice. Don’t hesitate to speak up if you feel you are being stereotyped.
- Have a positive attitude and don’t fall into the “constant complaining” trap.
- Engage with those around you; especially young people.
- Resist the urge to start a sentence with “Back in my day…”
- Learn something new every day.
- Keep up with technology.
- Become a volunteer.
- Get plenty of exercise and rest.
Ageism in older adults is a lack of knowledge or understanding of what aging is all about. Let the world see the best of you! Laugh, sing, dance, and be the envy of those who are looking to you for a peek into their future.