Aging is the process of growing old while ageism is defined as prejudice by one age group against another, especially people belonging to an older age group. The society hails the youth since they are energetic and productive, rendering them useful. On the contrary, unlike in the past where older people symbolized wisdom, there exist many negative stereotypes about old age with many people associating old age with silliness or forgetfulness. Ageism and age discrimination has become rampant today, and it is time the society realizes that all people, regardless of their age, have something to offer their communities.
Today age has become sufficient reason to justify inequality and thus limit people from contributing meaningfully to society (Officer & de la Fuente-Núñez, 2018). For instance, in job advertisements, employers discourage members of a particular age group mostly between fifty and a hundred years from applying for job opportunities (Timmermann, 2017). Recent research indicates that discrimination against older people is pervasive and reinforces exclusion and marginalization of older adults ( Kurth & Intrieri, 2017). Like many other perceived discriminations in society, age discrimination negatively affects, not only an individual’s involvement in community activities but also their health and longevity (Officer & de la Fuente-Núñez, 2018). For example, research has shown that people with a negative attitude towards aging recover slowly from disability and have a shorter life span compared to their counterparts with positive perspectives on aging.
Experts suggest that it is possible for society to transform the negative perceptions towards older adults into more positive attitudes and beliefs ( Kurth & Intrieri, 2017). To achieve the change, individuals should start by providing correct information about aging, which would counteract the uninformed beliefs about old adults and the aging process. Judging from racism and sexism, changing some social norms can also lead to a more prosperous and equitable community (Officer & de la Fuente-Núñez, 2018). Encouraging and having good behavior, understanding, and political determination concerning age and aging promotes healthy aging while fostering people’s ability to live productive lives and participate in activities of their choice.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is collaborating with other global organizations and programs to create awareness on the subject of ageism. They aim to initiate dialogues and contribute to the enactment of policies and programs which are against age discrimination. According to WHO, traditional societies upheld great respect for the old adults, and thus, the organization aims to restore the values. Experts believe that disrespecting older people makes the young adults assume that the older adults are infirm, too old to work, unable to make correct judgment, and thus too weak to be productive. In the United States, a group of organizations have also come together in the past and conducted research on the public’s view about old age and how to shift the perception.
In conclusion, all living things are expected to get old someday before dying, that is, if they do not die from diseases or accidents at an earlier age. Individuals need to change how they portray old adulthood since aging is inevitable, and society should embrace it. It is ironical that individuals would treat close family members or clients with respect even though they are old but view things differently when it comes to generalizations. Promoting ageism affects not only the lives of the victims but also that of the perpetrators. Conversely, accepting, and integrating the old in the daily activities of the community makes the community more productive.
Kurth, M. L., & Intrieri, R. C. (2017). Attitudes, perceptions, and aging knowledge of future law enforcement and recreation majors. Educational Gerontology, 43(6), 313–326.
Officer, A., & de la Fuente-Núñez, V. (2018). A global campaign to combat ageism. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 96(4), 295–296
Timmermann, S. (2017). How Do We (and Our Clients) Feel about Getting Older? It’s Time to Reframe Aging. Journal of Financial Service Professionals, 71(5), 36–39.
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