Ageism is the stereotyping and discrimination of a person based on their age.

Older adults arguably take the brunt of ageism in the U.S., with a recent New York Times article reporting that 30 percent of people age 53 and older (who responded to a Clemson University study) say they have been mistreated because of their age. Sixty-three percent of those who responded said they have been victims of discrimination in one way or another.

While the numbers are disconcerting, they are not surprising. Ageism does not receive the same attention as other forms of discrimination do in this country, and so many perpetuated stereotypes and prejudicial difficulties arise when older adults interact with the world around them.

It has been said that American culture values youth over old age, and this is certainly an aspect of the popular media. Apart from The Golden Girls, how many many TV shows can you think of that feature senior adults in leading roles? It’s a troubling state of affairs when the demographic with the most real-life experience and wisdom becomes marginalized and left without a voice.

Fortunately, there are several programs that have shed a light on the ugly realities of ageism, and offer alternatives to ageist thinking. One such institution is Wrinkle Think, a publication that “redefin[es] America’s conversation on aging” with stories and commentary that challenge widely-held perceptions of old age and older people.

Last year, Assisted Living Federation of America enhanced its campaign to raise awareness of ageism and elder abuse with a film competition that confronts the issue in a creative way (watch the winning video at the previous link).

The International Council on Active Aging is another valuable resource for anti-ageism content and support. This organization, which began about a decade ago, helps to develop campaigns and strategies that address sales and marketing and other areas focused on seniors and aging.

Are there any other organizations or resources you know of that confront ageism in this country or others? Please share them if you do.



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3 Responses to Getting Past Ageism

  • oneonone says:
  • Alex says:

    Great subject. I just saw a beautiful short film, I invite you to check it out.

    “Shot in Fire Island, New York, this film (4min. 23 sec) captures the secrets of eternal youth as Maia Helles, a Russian ballet dancer turns 95 but still remains resolutely independent, healthy and as fit as a forty year old. Made by Julia Warr, artist and film maker met Maia on a plane 4 years ago and became utterly convinced by the benefits of her daily exercise routine, which Maia perfected, together with her Mother, over 60 years ago, long before exercise classes were ever invented. (2011)”
    Film by Julia Warr
    Music by Lola Perrin

  • oneonone says:

    One of our favorite anti-ageism movies is The World’s Fastest Indian starring Anthony Hopkins as a man determined to make his mark on a motorcycle no matter what stage of life he is in.

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