Ageism – Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about ageism.
What Is Ageism?
Ageism occurs when an individual is judged or held back based on their age or apparent age. This type of stereotyping buckets entire generations together with the assumption that each person of the same age is the same in ability and understanding.
Who Does Ageism Impact?
Ageism impacts all age groups in society, in healthcare, and in the workplace. Ageism can impact individuals at any age, and at any stage in their life.
Why Is Ageism A Problem?
Age-based stereotypes can be detrimental to the health and mental well-being of all age groups. Ageism can hold individuals back and cause them to be treated differently. Ageism can have an effect in any area of someone’s life, and single-handedly change how they are able to exist in society.
When Did Ageism Start?
Ageism is a stereotype that has been around for generations, but the term itself was coined in 1969. Ageism is starting to gain traction more so now – the reason for that is largely due in part to individuals living longer, healthier lives, and not conforming to stereotypes of being “old age.” People are beginning to fight back harder against generalized age stereotypes.
When Do People Start Experiencing Ageism?
Unfortunately ageism can start at any age. The most commonly discussed form of ageism occurs in the lives of individuals over the age of 40, however there are many people under 40 who experience reverse ageism.
Ageism and reverse ageism are both age-based stereotypes in which people are believed to be incompetent, unable, or wrong simply based on judgement about their number of years alive.
Some ageism is even experienced by young children. When a child is begging to brush their own teeth, and their parent tells them they aren’t old enough to do it correctly – that can be a form of ageism. The child may be capable of learning to brush their teeth the right way, but the parent has decided not to teach them until a specific age they have stereotyped as the “best” age.
What Causes Ageism?
The act of stereotyping is taught to us from a very young age from those around us, and from the media. We hear our family stereotyping people and situations, and we hear age-based stereotypes in our favorite cartoons.
We grow up stereotyping people and situations as second nature. It will be almost impossible to stop ageism in its tracks when it occurs in youth, without first working on how adults can curb stereotyping tendencies and how the media portrays age.
With continued education, individuals can be taught to stop stereotyping as they grow older. They can acknowledge their gut reaction to people, and realize that these reactions are not based in fact or truth, but instead generalizations we have learned over time.
Once we educate adults on how to lessen age-based stereotypes they create and place on others, then they will in turn teach their children differently.
What Forms Can Ageism Take?
Just as other stereotypes we encounter as a human race, ageism can appear is many forms. We can be subject to ageist media representations, advertisements or phone calls. We can be engaged in ageist hiring or firing practices, or healthcare decisions. We can be simply be a part of conversations riddled with age-based stereotypes.
No matter what form ageism takes, it’s unhealthy, and negative. It’s unfair, and shouldn’t be tolerated.
How Can We Fight Back Against Ageism?
Fighting ageism is going to take effort on all fronts. From education within society and the workplace, to legislation from governments. On the road to accomplishing those items, also creating conversations is key to raising awareness about ageism and eliminating it from our lives.