Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Yesterday I was blogging about positive aging birthday cards. Today, I want to note a couple of articles from last month about ageism, and its prevalence in our culture. First, an article published in Time magazine: Ageist Attacks Against President Biden Reinforce Outdated Stereotypes—and Hurt Younger People, Too. "Age has long been a powerful political weapon, and Biden has by no means been the sole target. Similar questions have recently been raised about California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who, at 87, is the oldest member of the U.S. Senate, and Wilbur Ross, President Trump’s former Commerce Secretary, who’s now 83." Don't forget we also think about age when we think about some of the Supreme Court Justices.
The title suggests ageism harms us all. How does it hurt younger folks? The article offers this: "experts say age-based attacks ... demonstrate how common ageist stereotypes are in American culture—to everyone’s detriment. 'Cultural messaging gets internalized, and it can shape the attitudes that people have about their own aging process, and about their awareness of their age related changes when they do happen,'" one expert stated for the article.
The article points out the weakness of trying to correlate age and ability. "[M]edical advancements mean that people are not only living longer, but are often at their maximum cognitive capacity deeper into old age. The prevalence of older people with dementia “declined significantly between 2000 and 2012,” a 2017 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found. 'Chronological age in and of itself is not a good indicator of what a person is capable of doing....'"
The article explains the impact of ageist attacks on us collectively and individually and suggest that "The key... is for people to be mindful of underestimating people based on their age, and instead look for instances in which individual older people defy stereotypes."
Follow the Time article with this one also from last month: The Old Guy’s Taking His Shot. Here's an excerpt:
Just days away from 100 days in office, there’s already a vigorous record of achievement that belies the notion that an old guy can’t handle the rigors of the job. Quite the opposite. For all those who complained before the election about another old white guy taking the reins, whined that we needed someone younger and fresher, and worried that he was the last guy to take the country into the future, Biden has proffered a compelling (and calm) counterpunch.
Knowledge, experience and the wisdom of age—matched with the common sense to surround himself with talented professionals and experts—looks not only like the right package for this moment, but a winning approach at any time. I’m not doubting that younger people are capable of handling the job, of course, but the 78-year-old might have one extra ingredient that his younger colleagues don’t.
P.S. Why do we refer to products as those that "fight aging" or are "anti-aging" instead of referring to them as "enhancing aging" or are for "positive aging"?