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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.

The Benefits of In-Home Care “Keeping Your Loved One Happy”

Dad walking at home

As individuals age, they often need a bit more help with their day-to-day activities. The question then becomes whether or not that individual should continue to live at home or move into a long-term care facility. In-home care is a great option for many people and has many benefits.

1.    Older individuals who live at home are able to maintain a level of freedom that would not be possible in a long-term care facility. For many, this freedom is synonymous with maintaining dignity, which is something many individuals fear loosing as they age. Similarly, those who receive in-home care can come and go as they please – for whatever reason. They can also choose their own meal times.

 2.    In-home care allows the individual to stay physically close to the things they love. Their prized possessions do not have to be condensed and stored as they move into a single room. Being able to keep these items readily available is important because they often have sentimental value and are tied to countless memories. Individuals are able to keep any pets they may have if they live at home. Studies have shown that people with pets tend to be less stressed, which can lead to a longer lifespan. 

3.    Visiting hours are not restricted at home, so friends and family can visit on a time schedule that works for them. This lack of restriction often leads to more frequent visits, which helps individuals stay connected to their families. In a long-term care facility family members often  feel that their love one is getting help and enough socialization that they don’t need to visit as much.

4.    In-home care can help the individual maintain better health. In places where many people live together, such as a long-term care facility, illness spreads very quickly and if one person gets sick, others get sick. At home, sick guests can be asked to postpone their visit until they are well.

 5.    With in-home care, the person does not have to deal with the emotional stress of adding multiple new elements into their lives. They will not have to adapt to a new routine in a new place, surrounded by new people.

 6.    Long-term care facilities can be very expensive and, in some cases, far away from other family members’ homes, especially in less populated areas. In many cases, the individual has already paid off their mortgage, which can substantially reduce the cost of caregiving at home. The stressors related to the actual moving process are also eliminated.

 7.    And last but not least, many older persons who live at home are simply happier. For most, the comforts of home truly are priceless.

 It is now easier than ever for older persons to live at home. There are many services that are both simple to use and affordable. In-home care products and services, such as security systems make living at home a viable option, and in many cases enable you to honor your loved one’s wishes to remain in their home.

For more specific information about all our services and costs contact New Horizons In-Home Care – 1-877-687-8851.Dad walking at home

Caring For The Caregiver

Caring for the Caregiver

Take time to care for yourself!

Caring For The Caregiver – “How to Overcome Stressors”

Caregiving for a loved one is one of the highest stressors for any person. In order to ensure that one maintains a balance while caregiving, you need to know the signs of stress and learn ways to advocate for yourself. First, in order to have the “tools” to help you should become aware of the Caregiver Bill of Rights. The Caregiver Bill of Rights was designed by a group of professionals to help a person identify what needs they might have and become more aware of how to take care of themselves. Here is the Caregiver Bill of Rights- Continue Reading →

Elder Abuse – A Rising Problem

Elder Abuse

With the growing numbers of elders in our society today comes a serious concern/problem that often time goes unreported – that of Elder Abuse. According to the World Health Organization Elder Abuse “is a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”

Elder abuse finds its roots in the family violence dilemma and is often reinforced by society. The majority of victims experiencing elder abuse are elder women. The ratio of women to men is 6:1.

There are several types of elder abuse, including; physical (21%), sexual (1%), emotional or psychological (23%), neglect (28%), abandonment (2%), and financial or material exploitation (25%). Elder abuse is the most recent aspect of family violence to receive public awareness. The individuals affected are 1 out of 5 persons over the age of 65.

Economically, the overt costs to American life have not yet been estimated. The social cost for family violence, which elder abuse is a part of, is estimated in the billions of dollars. Unfortunately, only 10% of abuse to an elder goes reported. Many experts believe much of elder abuse goes unreported and that the 10% is just a minimum amount.

A study by the National Center for Elder Abuse found that 62% of elder abuse was to women. 12% of the abuse involved financial or material exploitation, 62% of the perpetrators were family members, 35% of substantiated cases an adult child was responsible, 13.4% were the spouse, and 13.6% were another relative.

As Americans we all need to be aware of this rising social issue, and the responsibility each and every one of us has to address the issue when we encounter an older vulnerable adult who potentially is being abused.

Abuse can happen to anyone-no matter the person’s age, sex, race, religion, or ethnic or cultural background.

Learn more by visiting:

National Institute on Aging: Elder Abuse

Make Your Business Senior-Friendly

With the Silver Tsunami (new term for baby boomers) , every business needs to evaluate whether or not their business is aging friendly. As we age there are some key changes that a person experiences which might prevent an older person from patronizing them.  Here are the key areas.

PARKING LOTS – are they close to the door. Free from cracks and ruts? Even walking surfaces. Can people sit to wait for a ride.

SIGNAGE – Can a person with reduced movility and vision read the sign. Are they well lit and have color contrast.

DOORS – Are doors easy to open? Do interior doors have levered handles? People with arthritis can open a door with a lever easier than a doorknob.

STAIRWAYS – Are handrails easy to grab and do they provide enough support? Do they extend the full length of the stairway? Are the risers from the steps easily distinquished? Are there color stripes to divide the steps? Use only bright colors (yellow, turquoise, etc.) black and white are colors that would be difficult for someone with memory impairment?

ELEVATOR – Does the elevator allow enough time for a person to enter? Are elevator buttons marked in large print and have good contrast? Does the elevator have a railing for people to hang on to?

BUILDING INTERIOR – Interiors glare free? Lighting the same from one area to antother? Is the lighting adequate? Do chairs have firm seating with arm rests? Is the carpet low-pile? Is furniture arranged to be obstacle free? Are there constrasting colors to help visually impaired individuals? Is the room temperature comfortable? Is there minimal noise? Are there grab bars in the bathroom?

READING AND WRITING MATERIALS – Are the reading and writing materials customized for older adults? Is the print large enough? Is there contrast between the color of the print and the paper? Are forms that are needed sent out in advance to be filled out?

If you need more information, feel free to contact  New Horizons In-Home Care at 1-877-687-8851 . We would be pleased to help assess your business to determine if it is aging friendly.