Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Loss of Dignity As Ageism

My friend Professor Naomi Cahn, sent this essay published in the Washington Post that really resonated with me.  Opinion: Please do not put a party hat on my head — and other indignities of old age. When I look at birthday cards that note a person is infirm because of age, or party decorations with an over the hill theme, I shake my head.  I'm glad I'm not alone in this.  The author offers that  she is "83 and have no idea if I’ll ever reach that three-digit number. But I’m warning my children and friends that if they dare to top my noggin with [a child's birthday party hat]  I will use every bit of strength to rise from my chair, grab a cane if there’s one handy and whack them all in the head."  She writes about the helpful folks who assume she needs assistance instead of asking first. Here's her approach

Whenever I get the chance, I announce my age. I do this because it’s a disservice to us older folks if we hide it. To me, that’s saying we’re ashamed to have lived so long. We’re covering up an important fact, as if we’re descendants of a long line of serial killers.

One way I’m protesting against the popular image of an old person is to be a showoff. On my 80th birthday, to celebrate my achievement of finally learning how to swim (the crawl, with flippers), I got a tattoo on my right biceps. I’d gotten my first on my left — my kids’ names and images reflecting them — for my 60th. But the newest has not shut me up.
Her approach to aging is quite positive and she offers good advice at the end of her essay:

If you’re a woman of my vintage, I ask this of you: Do not dye your hair. Do not get cosmetic surgery. Do not lie about your age. Be proud of the years you’ve lived, the talents you’ve contributed to your world and the importance of your being a witness to decades of history.

And maybe, get a tattoo.

So don't buy decorations or cards that imply an age number correlates with infirmities and remember that ageism is a real and harmful thing. 

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/elder_law/2021/12/loss-of-dignity-as-ageism.html

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