Just Say No to Ageism—Including Your Own!
“All societies in the world are in the midst of [a] longevity revolution,” says a 2019 United Nations report. “Older persons are a growing demographic group in society.” Unfortunately, at the same time, “Every second person in the world is believed to hold ageist attitudes,” reports the World Health Organization, calling ageism “an insidious scourge on society.”
What does it mean to be ageist? Ageism refers to prejudice, stereotyping or discrimination based on a person’s age. It can happen to people of any age, including younger people, but our focus is on ageism against older people. Here are some examples of ageism:
Ageism is a widespread problem, and it shows up in a variety of ways across cultures and societies. It even shows up in older people themselves, as something called “internalized ageism.”
“Do you ever have one of those days where every time you misplace something or can’t recall a name, you declare you’re having a ‘senior moment’ instead of thinking of yourself as having too much on your plate?” asks Jan Golden, the founder of Age-Friendly Vibes. She says that’s a common example of internalized ageism.
Internalized ageism happens when an older person accepts the negative stereotypes, biases and discrimination about aging. Those common stereotypes affect their own thoughts, behaviors, self-esteem and even actions. Sadly, notes Golden, internalized ageism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It might be laughing at an ageist birthday card (“You know you’re old when …”) and even limiting one’s activities based on what one thinks an older person “should” do.
Other effects of internalized ageism include:
Overall, internalized ageism can decrease a person’s quality of life. We can all do our part to challenge ageist beliefs and promote healthy aging. Adults of all ages should remember that they, too, will be “senior citizens.” Find ways to interact positively with people of other generations. Celebrate the diversity and abilities of older people.
“Ageism harms everyone—old and young,” says Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. “But often, it is so widespread and accepted that we do not even recognize its detrimental effect on our dignity and rights. We need to fight ageism head-on, as a deep-rooted human rights violation.”
How Right at Home Can Help
Right at Home can help keep seniors engaged and reduce their social isolation as they age in place. Our trained caregivers can provide transportation to social outings to help older adults stay involved in the activities they love. Other services, such as light housekeeping, preparing meals, and personal care, can also be provided in the home. If you want to learn more, use our office locator to contact the nearest office and ask for a FREE in-home consultation.
What Is Ageism and How Do We Tackle It?
The WHO Global Campaign to Combat Ageism “aims to build a world for all ages by changing the way we think, feel and act towards age and aging.”