[ANSWER] Ageing and Ageism

Read Lecture notes; read text Chapter 5 pgs. 114-142. Watch film and prepare for an online group discussion


My thoughts on Ageism

Inappropriate and unequal treatment continues to occur in workplaces in America, in the health care sector, as well as in legal areas that are based in part on age discrimination. Despite efforts to provide a level of protection that might be based upon compassion, ageism continues to lead to dis-empowerment of seniors in this nation. Ageist policies and beliefs on the parts of some in America continue to categorize seniors as one large, homogeneous population, completely ignoring the vast diversity issues and individual needs within the population of seniors as a whole.

Even more it seems that seniors, while being subjected to the ageist beliefs of others, are internalizing these same beliefs. Ageism and the discriminatory practices that are associated with it can impact seniors in ways that are noticeable by contributing to a reduction in their financial security, poorer health quality, and a subtler and potentially more pervasive impact – social isolation. Social isolation is a risk factor for mistreatment, poorer quality of life, and lower self-esteem. In combination with other types of prejudices such as racism, sexism, and anti-disability sentiment, the health and well-being of seniors is placed at further risk.

The Immense Growth of the Senior Population and Ageism

The population of Americans who are over the age of 60 is growing at a rapid pace, yet society is still not embracing seniors. Seniors in America find themselves fighting stereotypes such as, ‘old geezer,’ or attempting to achieve an equal footing in this nation’s workplaces. Despite the efforts of advocates, people over the age of 60 in America find themselves dealing with ageism in this nation to this day.

One survey of 84 people over the age of 60 in America found almost 80% of them reporting having experienced ageism. The incidents they reported included other people making the assumption that they experienced either physical impairments or memory loss as a result of their age. Another study performed by Duke University revealed that the most common type of ageism, reported by 58% of those who responded, was having a joke told about seniors that made fun of them. The report by Duke University also found that 31% of the respondents reported being entirely ignored, or not being taken seriously as a result of their age.

The mistreatment of seniors in America is occurring at a time when people who are over the age of 85 comprise the fastest-growing portion of the population in this nation. Almost 35 million Americans are over the age of 65 according to the 2000 U.S. Census – a number that is expected to double by the year 2030 to 20% of the overall population. The numbers of seniors in America do not surprise geropsychologists, who work to inform others of the need for improved care of seniors. Their goal is to expand research and training opportunities while eliminating ageism in every area of American society. The demeaning stereotypes presented through the media, as well as public biases against seniors, must end to keep our society strong and healthy.

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