Age and Youth in Action


ti_ageintAgeism Defined

Ageism is arbitrary discrimination on the basis of chronological age.

Ageism is as serious and pervasive as racism and sexism.

Ageism is harmful to all age groups, and oppresses both the old and the young. It deprives both groups of power and status and the right to control their own lives and destinies.

The greatest handicap associated with old age is the ageist barriers and prejudices imposed on the old by society’s orientation to youth.

We have been conditioned to despise and devalue our own experiences, skills, gray hair and wrinkles.

Many have been so brainwashed by this thinking that we rarely admit our true age and try to keep alive the youth cult by lies, self-deception and futile efforts to look young.

The subject of age affects all persons: we are becoming older. Powerlessness and alienation affect young as well as old in ways which are destructive.

Examples of Ageism

Black balloon birthday parties

“You don’t look 40”— or whatever age

Mandatory retirement

Limited positive roles in tv and movies for older people

Lower ticket costs for older adults for movies

Seating old people away from the active, entry area in a restaurant

Not being waited on in line/getting passed by for others who came after you

“Terrible twos” used to describe a vital life stage of growing independence

Dreading being a parent of teenagers

People in their twenties being told they are too young to work with “senior

Lying about one’s age for fear of negative perceptions or treatment or to be
eligible for some benefit

Absence of older models in advertising (clothing, cars, etc.)

Lack of old people in position of influence, decision-making

Efforts to create sub-minimum wage for teen jobs

Assumption that young people are computer whizzes and older people are

Stereotype that youth are drug addicts or gang members

Cosmetics focused on anti-aging

Parallel Myths of Youth & Elders

Deemed too young or too old to contribute

Take too many drugs

Are unproductive

Should not /cannot have sex

Don’t have money

Don’t know what they are talking about (so can be discounted)

Want to be left alone or only want be with “own kind”

Other Myths About Aging

You become less attractive the older you get

Losing memory is a normal part of growing old

Mental ability declines with age

Old people are physically unable to function

Aging is terrible

Old people are bored

Actions to Combat Ageism

Throw yourself a birthday party

Stop lying about your age

Let your hair be its natural color

Quit complimenting people on how young they look

Write to your local news media when a headline or cartoon is ageist

Monitor advertising—write complaints, boycott products/places

Voice your objections

Educate others

Challenge stereotypes about age

Refuse to buy derogatory birthday cards

Research, monitor, and question the responsiveness of institutions to age

Get to know people across age boundaries

Don’t patronize people who are old

Don’t mix illness with aging

Be aware of language that is stereotyping

Don’t tell jokes that make fun of growing old

Challenge ageism

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Ageism Video

Ripening: Thoughts About Aging and Ageism


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Questions to Ponder
Words of Wisdom
Actions to Take