As the years pass and we get older, it’s not unusual to feel a bit ostracized by society simply because of our age. From jokes about elderly drivers to stereotypes about out-of-touch older people who can’t use a smartphone, ageism is a real and pervasive stereotype that affects elders and their families every day. Ageism shows it’s face in many different ways, but one of the most harmful is the assumption or belief that elders are entirely unable of living independently or even worse, unable to meaningfully contribute to society. These stereotypes, besides being emotionally hurtful, can cause actual meaningful harm by creating social barriers for elders and older people that can prevent them accessing opportunities and services.
Aging is a natural part of life, and all human beings experience it in their lives. Elders, although they may lack “perfect” vision or be unable to run like they did in high school, have much to offer society. Challenging stereotypes about what elders are and are not capable of is a crucial part of maintaining an inclusive and healthy society for everyone. Remember, someday you’ll be an elder too!
A common stereotype that elders may run into is the harmful assumption that they are incapable of learning new skills or keeping up with new technology. Although elders may not innately know how to properly use a snapchat filter like a middle-schooler would, this does not mean that they are incapable of learning! In fact, many elders are active learners and hungry for learning new technology and new way of social interaction. Just because someone is older, it doesn’t mean they have no chance of keeping up with the times.
Another stereotype is the unstated belief that elder people are all frail, physically dependent, and require constant supervision. Although each elder person is different, and some may require a level of care to that degree, this is by no means true for everyone. Many elders are capable of a high level of activity, even to the level they had when they were young. Assuming that all elder people have limited ability is a stereotype that reduces each person’s life experience and unique capability to just a number: their age.
Elder people are a diverse group with varied experiences, interests, and abilities. Ultimately, it’s up to all of us to challenge ageism and negative stereotypes about aging and older adults. By promoting inclusivity, empathy, and understanding, we can create a more equitable and supportive society for people of all ages. Whether it’s through our actions, our words, or our policies, we can all play a role in promoting a more positive and inclusive view of aging.
As a geriatric care management team, Senior Steps aims to focus on overall health and take an educational, preventative, all-encompassing approach that coordinates care among different providers and advocates for timely, quality treatment. Our work with seniors and their families streamlines the caretaking process in all its logistics to decrease stress and burnout and build true well-being. If you are interested in consulting with us at no cost, book a call at https://www.seniorsteps.org/book-online.