Vignettes on Aging – Ageism

If we haven’t personally experienced racism or sexism, homophobia, or any cultural bias, most of us are aware of those pre-judgments around us. Now, as elders, we’re being exposed to and experiencing ageism. It’s just a matter of time. Perhaps you’ve already had your fair share of being discounted just because you’re old.

Has your mental acuity been questioned? Have you been talked down to? Have you been made to feel invisible or less worthy? We’re seeing ageism expressed on the national level with presidential candidates’ ages being weaponized by critical opponents.

So, what can we do to fight ageism? How can we shine a light on it to educate society and what can we do to lessen it?

The first way to combat ageism is to look at your own biases. Are you okay when old people are portrayed poorly in society … for the sake of entertainment, in particular? Two other ways we can fight ageism is to be on the lookout for it anywhere and to call it out when we see it. We need to quit being okay with entertainment, social media, greeting cards, and jokes that label us as old farts, demented, slow, cranky, out of step, etc. You know those comments that are commonly bantered about in the name of humor and ‘just joking.’

We also need to support programs and candidates who support the vitality of individuals regardless of age.

In the same way that we don’t stand for homophobia or racism, we need to stop being the brunt of jokes or unfair criticism because we process things or move a little slower. Regardless of our age, we are still valued members of society. Let’s keep that reminder going.