The Ugly Truth about Ageism
Ageism, discrimination based on age, is present in society in countless ways, a recent Guardian article by Caroline Baum explains. It is often difficult for the younger population to picture themselves as old, and difficult to picture older people as once young.
Ageism is found all around us, particularly in nursing homes. The article describes a disturbing incidence where a staff member at a nursing home described residents as either “Os” (residents with their mouths hanging open) or Qs” (residents with their tongues hanging out).
Discriminatory language such as this is found throughout society in countless ways. Writer and ageism activist Ashton Applewhite argues that even the term “the elderly” is problematic, as “The” implies the group is homogenous, where in reality older people are just as diverse as the younger population.
Consumerism intensifies ageism, where companies urge to “fight” the ageing process, despite the fact that most people are well aware this is not possible. Applewhite encourages initiatives like intergenerational housing, friendship networks and activist movements to combat ageism.
Despite the prevalence of ageism in today’s society, Applewhite is optimistic for the future, as younger people are growing up in a more diverse world, and are aware diversity is here to stay. The International Federation on Ageing is a strong advocate for older people’s rights and combatting ageism. Contact IFA Expert Donna Butts, Executive Director of Generations United for more information on how intergenerational connections and policies can help to combat ageism. For further information on ageism, contact IFA Expert Craig Mokhiber, human rights defender, activist, international lawyer and specialists in human rights law, policy and methodology.