Inherent ageism

One of my (several) angry rants is about people of all ages who refer to “us” and “them”—them being older people. Excuse me but all of us are “we”. Old people are not a separate species. Humans of all ages have huge variability and when one assumes that people over 65, or whichever milepost you choose, have commonalities, you are bound to be wrong.

In fact, the longer we live, the greater the variability. Babies have age-specific markers. It is somewhat predictable at what age babies begin to walk and talk. But the longer a human lives, the greater the variability. Even by the teen years, people are more unpredictable. Any time one generalizes about all old people, one is bound to be wrong.

This “us” and “them” is particularly obnoxious in people working with older people. Just as racism and sexism foster unfair stereotypes and injustices, ageism does too.

Published by jeannettefranks

Jeannette Franks, PhD, is a passionate gerontologist and for over 20 years has taught ethics, grief and loss, and courses on geriatrics and gerontology for the University of Washington. Franks' most recent book is, To Move or To Stay Put: A Guide for Your Last Decades. Look for it now on the University Bookstore website It is also available at Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge. Franks previously published a definitive guide to independent and assisted living titled Washington Retirement Options, and often speaks on retirement options, disability issues, end-of-life issues and is an advocate for accessibility. She has a goal of making Bainbridge an elder-friendly community and is available to groups and families to discuss these issues. She served for nine years on the Kitsap County Advisory Council on Aging and Long-term Care. She also has the privilege of working in a small way for the past 15 years with the Suquamish tribal elders.

One thought on “Inherent ageism

  1. I couldn’t agree more. As I say in one of my talks, we waste so much energy sustaining the illusion that the old are somehow not US, and that denial is where ageism takes root. When we see people as other than us—other color, other nationality, other religion—their welfare seems less of a human right.

    Liked by 1 person

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