Leaders Challenging Ageism
Thought Leaders are sharing the message that it’s time to combat ageism and shift public perception about aging
By Fern Marder
In her speech at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting in October, Carol Silver Elliott, newly-elected Chair of LeadingAge, asked members to fight ageism “by calling it when we see it, in ourselves and others, by thinking about the way we treat older adults, including the way we interact and the language we use.”
Penny Cook, President and CEO of Pioneer Network, wrote in a recent blog post: “The thing about ageism is that it’s universal. It affects all of us. We’re growing older, every day. What should we do? Let’s celebrate it, let’s embrace it, let’s shout it loud and far away that ‘Old People Are Cool!'”
Roberto Muniz, President and CEO of Parker Health Group, wrote this week: “I commend the work that AARP is doing in urging Congress to pass the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act. LeadingAge’s vision of creating An America Freed from Ageism lines up perfectly with what #WithIt is. We agree with the values held by Eden Alternative, Old School, The Pioneer Network and influencers like Ashton Applewhite. It’s organizations and leaders like these, and many others like you, that we would like to take a stand with.”
Is it a coincidence that more and more leaders in the field of aging services have become more outspoken about ageism? Those of us working in the field are more sensitive to ageism. We have read articles and studies on the harm it triggers, particularly for the people we serve.
Becca Levy, a social psychologist at the Yale School of Public Health, concluded in her study that stereotypes of aging can adversely impact older people’s health. Older people who believe ageist stereotypes are less likely to recover from disability than adults with a positive view of aging. They also have a higher risk for dementia.
It’s time for our voices to be heard, particularly on social media. Have you or someone you care about experienced ageism? Post about it, blog about it, and raise your voice. Ageism should not be the only “ism” acceptable in our society. Not anymore!