In many cultures, old age is respected and revered. And it is respected in America, as well, on an individual basis. However, in most of the Western world, we have become a youth-obsessed culture. Every time you open a magazine, there are articles about staying young, and dozens of advertisements for anti-wrinkle creams, or anti-aging supplements. And, unfortunately, in this era of youth-worship, most people over the age of 40 have encountered some form of ageism.
What is ageism?
Ageism is prejudice and discrimination against a certain age group, particularly the elderly. Ageism is also unfairly limiting a person’s access to certain opportunities and rights based on irrelevant criteria such as age. This can come in many forms, from taking forced retirement to being passed over for a job in favor of a younger employee, even though the older worker is better-qualified.
How can it influence senior people’s lives?
By the time most people move to senior living communities, they are retired. However, there are some seniors that still work, whether it is because they enjoy it, or to keep busy, or because they are forced to work to continue to earn a living. And many people are faced with prejudice based on their age, even though there is a law to protect seniors from discrimination.
The United States Department of Labor Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), signed into law in 1967, prohibits discrimination against employees 40 years and older. A recent survey shows that many workers still believe there are signs of job discrimination on the job today: 64% of workers say that they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.
Let’s challenge the preconceptions
Seniors are taking better care of themselves, are better educated, stronger and more vibrant than seniors were a generation or more ago. They are also internet-savvy, and many decide to pursue a college degree in their sixties or later. Quite a few challenge themselves by continuing to stay physically active, or even take up a new sport or bodybuilding later in life.
Slowly, the perception of the elderly is changing. In addition to all the “50 is the new 40” mentality, there are just more people around who are over 60, as the baby-boomers continue to thrive and survive. Media has also become better at portraying aging stereotypes over the last few decades, which is quite evident while watching an old movie or sitcom.
We will continue to improve our lives, and fight ageism. The best way to do this is by taking excellent care of ourselves, physically, mentally and spiritually.