Ageism In Society
Ageism in society can take many forms. From stereotypes about retirement communities to judging glances older individuals get while they’re out in the community going about their day-to-day business. It’s hard to pinpoint all of the exact instances where older adults face ageism within society, and because of that the cure for the ageism in communities will need to be solved through an overall attitude change from the public towards older adults.
This attitude shift will work towards eliminating stereotypes towards older individuals. Older individuals may need help with certain tasks, but they aren’t helpless. They may have more to learn, but they’re not unlearned. But those statements aren’t only about older individuals, in fact, they can apply to every single person on this planet – so why are they usually directed towards the very young and those who are older? By changing how we each individually view older adults, we will see a shift in how society views, acts and reacts towards older individuals. We will see ageism slowly slip away. But there’s a long way to go until that happens.
So, how do we make small changes to impact the current ageism we face in society? What changes can we make that will cause a monumental attitude shift that helps eliminate ageism for good?
Check yourself when you start stereotyping
Whether you are at work or out and about, try to pay very close attention to the thoughts running through your mind when you spot older individuals going about their daily routine. Are you guilty of stereotyping? As with most stereotypes, they take hold when we are young, and from there we barely notice of how much they stay with us for the rest of our lives. By performing a quick check of your gut reactions to individuals throughout your day you may notice that you hold unwarranted ageist stereotypes. The hardest part in this is noticing that you hold these stereotypes, and once you do notice that you have them you can begin to remove them with minimal effort.
One way to eliminate these gut reaction stereotypes you hold is to acknowledge them. Know that you have them, pay attention when they come to your mind, and remind yourself that they are just stereotypes and not reality.
Another way is to actively remove these subconscious stereotypes. When you catch yourself stereotype an older individual, build a new mental model of them – go up to them, introduce yourself, ask them about themselves. Build a new version of them in your head, and eliminate that initial stereotype you placed on them. This will help break the stereotyping cycle for yourself and build a new gut reaction stereotype of older individuals – a positive one.
We spend so much of our lives getting educated about a number of topics – new recipes, home DIY tips, new technology to invest in, etc. However, it’s not often that we turn to the web to discover how ageism impacts us, or how it may impact our future. It’s important to make an effort to learn everything there is about ageism, and how it’s currently impacting society to see how we can make a change in our own futures, or else we will find us ourselves impacted by ageism too. Plus, don’t forget about all of the family and friends you have – they are all being impacted now, or will find themselves impacted in the future. Getting educated about ageism isn’t just for you, it’s for everyone you care about.
We aren’t alone in our ageism battle. In fact, the majority of people on this planet will be impacted by ageism at some point in their lives. However, many may not realize it, or know there is a name for what they are experiencing. By starting conversations – at home, in the workplace, out in society – we will spread the word about ageism, how it hurts individuals, organizations and the economy. We will learn together, and solve this problem that impacts so many.