If you are an older adult, 65+, what is a subtle form of ageism that you have experienced but goes largely undetected?
Although Robert Butler was the first person who introduced the term ageism (the discrimination against an individual based on his older age) in 1968, we can still see the traces of ageism in every aspect of our daily life. According to Coughlin, an author, and director, it first started in the healthcare system. The roots go back to a traditional belief that everyone has a certain amount of life force, and when it is over, individuals die. Unfortunately, despite the achievements in the medical field, ageism casts its shadow over the practices. Not only health care but also institutions are now affected by it.
Discrimination in employment is an example of institutional ageism; since industrialization, a common belief has become prevalent in America, summarized in the following sentence: One person’s gain results in another’s loss. Consequently, everyone believes that there’s no space for young workers as long as seniors are in the company. Unfortunately, this is the cause of mandatory retirements. No seniors want to be in such a situation. It’s not accurate to say that all these practices are intentional. Sometimes, people are unaware that a simple sentence or behaviour is considered ageism. Instead, most of them are unintentional because ageism is deeply rooted in culture, society, and our minds from one generation to another.
Some accepted idioms or events such as “over the hill birthday” unintentionally convey that after 40 or 50, the person becomes slow and declines to boring old-age. The previous idioms are examples of ageism; they hurt our beloved seniors, whether intentional or unintentional. Sooner or later, we will be old and in the same situation as they are now. It’s time to eradicate the roots of ageism.
I am now 71, and I can honestly claim that I have never been subjected to ageism, either subtly or openly. I can recognize most intents behind words and behaviours due to various trainings I’ve undergone, which helps me understand people I engage with, strangers or not. Maybe it all relies on whether you care or not. If you don’t care, I believe you won’t encounter the age-discrimination that much. I hope it helps.
Seniors around my age and older than 65 years old experience ageism in many ways. One of the most subtle ways I have experienced ageism in the past few years was how people automatically assumed I could not perform and show my abilities in my respected field as professionally as younger people because of my age.
Another annoying behaviour is that most people – especially younger colleagues – act differently around me as if they’re dealing with fragile decoration pieces from their homes. These behaviours can only result in mentally-draining effects on seniors like anxiety, lack of self-confidence, and damaged self-perception.
I notice that I’m taken less seriously on the job. I’m still the same professional I was 20 years ago, but I’m no longer asked for input or advice. I find myself more on the sidelines and less in the center of things. One of my pet peeves is also people calling my incontinence briefs diapers. Babies wear diapers. These things usually depend on the culture, though, but recently, young people were participating in a game where I live, called the knock-out challenge.
They would approach an older adult and see if they could knock them out with one punch. People often become agitated and rude to an older adult moving too slowly. They often dismiss the knowledge and wisdom of the elderly just because they don’t use the internet for all their information. Senior citizens are more likely to be targeted for thefts and burglaries.