Saturday, 7 May 2016

Ageing and Stereotyping

"As in the song Eternity by Robbie Williams 'Youth is wasted on the young'. How true this is, as with most things in life we don't realise what we have until it's gone".      - Susan

Ageing and Stereotyping

Stereotypes make us behave in surprisingly negative ways towards older people.

Most people hope to live long lives, yet American culture is filled with negative images of getting older. Older adulthood is thought of as a time marked by deteriorating health, poor memory, low levels of activity, loneliness, and a sense of uselessness.  The truth is that these characterisations are inaccurate and they can make us anxious about growing old. They also make us feel and behave in surprisingly negative ways toward older people – we tolerate ageist jokes, age discrimination in the workplace, as well as financial and physical abuse toward older adults.

Those negative attitudes and discriminatory behaviours are what is known as AGEISM.  Did you know that ageism can harm your own mental,cognitive, and physical health as you age?
What can you do? Get the facts on ageing. People who know more about ageing are less ageist and may be on the path to living longer and more carefree lives.
Fact or Fiction: Test your knowledge on ageing 
True or False?
  • The majority of old people (past 65 years) have Alzheimer’s disease.
  • As people grow older, their intelligence declines significantly.
  • It is very difficult for older adults to learn new things.
  • Most older people live in nursing homes.
  • Older workers cannot work as effectively as younger workers.
  • Most old people are set in their ways and unable to change.
  • The majority of old people are bored.
  • Participation in volunteering through organisations (e.g., churches and clubs) tends to decline among older adults.
  • Abuse of older adults is not a significant problem in the U.S.
  • Grandparents today take less responsibility for rearing grandchildren than ever before.
If you answered “false” to all these questions, you have a perfect score – congratulations! If you missed some questions, you are not alone. Most people including high school students, college students, teachers, and health care professionals in training score poorly on these tests. We learn very little accurate knowledge about ageing at any stage in our schools, even those of us entering professions in which we will work with older adults.
So, what can you do?
When knowledge about ageing increases, ageist attitudes decrease.
Educating yourself about ageing can take the form of a one-hour lecture, several lectures, a multi-month course, or through reading more about ageing in academic books or scientific journals.
Ageism is a societal problem that touches all of us. It creates anxiety and conflict between younger and older generations. It restricts the lives and livelihood of older adults, damaging their support systems, work opportunities, health care, their thoughts about themselves, and even their physical health – some studies show that people who buy into negative ageist stereotypes live shorter lives.
Isn’t it time to get educated about ageing?
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