“L.A. has to be the world capital of ageism. I noticed it the first time i visited L.A. after my first year of college. I was staying with a classmate and his family. On about the third day of the visit, we were sitting in the kitchen when an elderly woman I hadn't seen before walked through without saying anything. My friend and his parents acted embarrassed but otherwise didn't acknowledge the woman's presence. I had to ask him later who it was.
This guest post is by Jeanette Leardi, a Portland, Oregon, writer, editor, and community educator who is changing perceptions about the aging process and helping people appreciate elders’ inherent dignity, wisdom, and unique value as mentors and catalysts for social change. You can read more of her blog posts at ChangingAging, where this post first appeared, and reach her through her website.
No one wants to die young. Everyone is aging. Yet most people don’t want to talk about it, or even acknowledge it to themselves. It’s almost a taboo.
As time goes by it gets harder to sustain the illusion that we’ll never grow old, yet many of us respond by digging deeper into denial.
Every few weeks there seems to be a new story about how attitudes towards aging affect the way older minds and bodies function. Better attitude, better health. The latest was an irresistibly titled one in the Los Angeles Times: “Karma bites back: Hating on the elderly may put you at risk of Alzheimer's.”
I like to talk about becoming an Old Person in Training as way to move beyond denial, overcome internalized ageism, and connect to our future selves. At the BOOM conference in Denver in October, it was wonderful to come across a kindred spirit, aging-focused psychotherapist Kyrie Sue Carpenter, and her very different scenario for achieving the very same goals.
Clip #7: Age discrimination cuts work lives short.
There’s plenty of buzz about diversity in the workplace, and that’s a good thing. Research shows that being around people who are different from us makes us more diligent and harder-working, not to mention more open-minded. Diverse teams make better decisions because they draw on more data and more points of view.
So why does the blindingly obvious point that age should be a criterion for diversity—alongside race, gender, ability, and sexual orientation—take people by surprise?
Do you want to grow old? Most people answer yes. A qualified yes, that is: “As long as I’ve got my health.” Long life looks attractive when it’s uncoupled from cognitive and physical decline. It’s a lot cheaper too: illness is expensive.