by Successful Aging in Action! | 5.8.19
Ageism is the last acceptable form of discrimination in our country. You might be thinking, “Of course I’m not ageist; I love older adults!” Or, “This doesn’t apply to me; I am an older adult!” Unfortunately, ageism is so much a part of mainstream society, we likely do not recognize all the ways it influences our language and behaviors.
For instance, consider the current thinking about retirees – once they finish working, they are no longer considered contributors to society, and are viewed as a burden to precious resources. What about within retirement communities, where levels of living are separated? Do you find yourself judging those who live “over there” in assisted living? And how many times have you said, “Pardon me, I’m having a senior moment?"
Age discrimination is not just about how the younger generations behave toward the older generations. It impacts every single person in our society by infiltrating our subconscious views of aging. This ultimately results in the very harmful ways we judge our own aging journey; this is sometimes referred to as internalized ageism. Each of us tends to be our own worst critic. Unfortunately, when this is fueled by negative views from society, it can result in disastrous effects. We see the symptoms of those struggling with age discrimination – both external and internal.
Key indicators include hopelessness, depression, lack of meaning and purpose, withdrawal from activities, isolation from social interactions. We also see it in the hesitation to ask for support, in “not wanting to be a burden,” and not viewing the ways in which we support others as being noteworthy. At minimum, it is limiting ourselves to what older adults “should” and “shouldn’t” do.
To whose views are we subscribing? What can you do to increase awareness and take action?
By Christa Bitner - Published in the July/August 2013 Masterpiece Living Mosaic
Written by Successful Aging in Action!
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