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
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
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
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