fb pixel


Ageism In America

Ageism: The Price of Being Old In America

Have you ever gone to a high-end department store in a major city only to find that you haven’t dressed up enough, or it would appear that way by the attitude and treatment of the sales staff? They act like you didn’t belong in their store. In this situation they can often be less than eager to help you find something and treat you as if you are like the poor beggar on the street. This is an example of discrimination.

Imagine you are an 80-year-old woman, married for 50 years, had two children, achieved a Master’s degree in Special Education and taught for 30 years. How would you feel if you had been going to your optometrist for 20 years and upon his retirement he sold his business to a young man in his 30’s who tells you when you pick up your new glasses that, “At your old age you should be glad you can even see.”

This type of treatment of older individuals is seen everyday throughout the United States and the coined term for this type of discrimination is “ageism.”

The term “ageism” was brought to the forefront of the country in 1968 with the Pulitzer Prize winning book by the geriatrician, Dr. Robert Butler, Why Survive, Growing Old in America. This term was seen by Dr. Butler as a “process of systemic stereotyping of and discrimination against people because they are old, just as racism and sexism accomplished this with skin color and gender.” Old people were categorized as demented, rigid in their thinking and manner, and old-fashioned in morality and skills. He found that through ageism it allowed the younger generations to see older persons as different from themselves and giving them an opportunity to not have to identify with them.

Most older persons at one time or another have experienced ageism, and it remains embedded within the nation’s institutions by the documented discrimination in the workplace, healthcare, language and in the media. Examples included the failure to hire or promote older persons, the absence of appropriate care of older persons in long-term care institutions, abusive language such as “crock,” “gaffer,” “old biddy,” “greedy geezer,” and “crone,” and imagery seen in ugly, distorted, angry, and negative cartoons and drawings. Also, it can be seen in direct person responses towards older persons-insensitivity and impatience are not uncommon. Not to mention the painful type of abuse – physical, emotional, financial and even sexual.

As the population grows older we find tht this form of discrimination is not lessening but continues to be seen in various ways.

Types of Ageism:

Personal Ageism – Ideas, attitudes, beliefs, and practices on the part of individuals that are biased against persons or groups based on their older age.

 Exclusion or Ignoring Older Persons Based on Stereotypical Ideas  – There are numerous myths of aging and one in particular is the thinking that to be old is to be ignorant, unable to learn and disabled.

 Mandatory Retirement – Determining that a particular age is one that is necessary for a person to retire based on some preconceived notion that all people are the same. Our current aging population is the most diverse in our history. There is no person that is the same as the other.

 Devaluing of Older Persons in Cost-Benefit Analysis – This is the thinking that an older person cannot make a monetary difference if they aren’t working. In the United States many older persons provide hour of volunteer service, as well as childcare for grandchildren. The loss to the US if the older population did not help would be estimated at 32 billion dollars.

Intentional Ageism – Ideas, attitudes, rules, or practices that are carried out with the understanding that they are biased against persons or groups based on their older age. Intentional ageism includes carrying out practices that take advantage of the vulnerabilities of older persons. These include: marketing and media that use stereotypes of older workers; denial of job training based upon age.

Unintentional Ageism – Ideas, attitudes, rules or practices that are carried out without the perpetrator’s awareness that they are biased against persons or groups based on their older age. These include: absence to procedures to assist old and vulnerable persons living on their own in emergency situations (e.g. flood, heat wave); language in the media.

One must ask how can we combat such a national tragedy? We must realize that the status of older persons and attitudes towards them exist and are rooted in our historical and economic circumstances. In addition to this, they also come from deeply held human concerns and fears about the vulnerability in the later years of life. In order to overcome this problem, we must first become aware of the situation, provide training for our children in our homes and in the curriculum in their schools about the facts of aging, and teach about the importance of the older generation in the forming and development of our family and American history.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Customer Reviews

New Horizons In-Home Care

Customer Testimonials

J. M. May 4, 2020

Eugene, Or Client
The people I've worked with have been so straightforward and honest. They really care about how it's going. The caregiver is very understanding, knowledgeable. He can see ahead and makes some suggestions. I can leave if I need without the least bit of worry. He is really proactive, I know he cares and trust him impeccably.

Pamela V. April 9, 2020

Eugene, Or Client
I like how nice the caregivers are. The office staff is prompt on getting somebody out here when it is needed and the caregivers make me feel better than what I am. They are willing to do anything I ask of them.

Barbara W. February 2, 2020

Corvallis, Or Client
We are happy to have them because they do well. They come when they are supposed to and do what they are supposed to. They do things that we didn't know we needed. They assess the situation well and plan for the right care. They are very dependable and thorough and are very friendly and helpful. We're very satisfied.

Candice S. April 1, 2020

Salem, Or Client
They are very helpful and on time with things. They do what they say they are going to do. They will talk to me and help me when needed. I don't have to wait forever to pick up my calls and they are quick to get back to me. It has been positive.

Sharon R. April 01, 2020

Salem, Or Client
The caregivers will do anything that we ask of them. They have been very convenient. and are able to be here and do things for us that we cannot do.

O.H. February 14, 2020

Eugene, Or Client
The caregiver they sent me is awesome. People in the office staff are friendly and they know what they are talking about. The case manager, is a wonderful person and she knows her job. If I need something, all I have to do is call them.

Mary B. April 01, 2020

Eugene, Or Client
It has taken a great load off of our shoulders, especially mine. It has helped my health as well and gives my husband some social time. They are really good at scheduling around our schedule and are matched very well to his needs. We always recommend them to others who need care.

Denise B. March 02, 2020

Salem, Or Client
My caregiver is wonderful. I wish I could have more time. They do so much for me that I can't do for myself. They spend a few minutes to talk with me and be social. They are very open, caring, patient, outgoing, understanding, and kind people. If I need help with anything they will always help me. They are so helpful. I don't know what I'd do without their services.

Gail P. February 13, 2020

Florence Or,
The office staff found the right person for us. They check in regularly. What we need is someone who could do the cleaning and we have that. I like the fact that they have provided the kind of assistance that we needed. The caregiver we have is excellent.

Barbara N. February 12, 2020

Eugene, Or Client
They are courteous, respectful, and serve good food, and do everything we ask. They did all of their duties and everything was done in a timely manner. They were very helpful.
Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On InstagramVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On Pinterest