What is wrong with ageism?
The age stereotypes behind ageism in later life can sometimes be positive, such as believing older age brings kindness and wisdom, but the rest is commonly harmful. They equate older age with declining physical and cognitive prowess, illness, and dependency. Age stereotypes are basically overgeneralizations and lean not to characterize individuals or the complicated reality of aging.
Aging, in fact, is highly individual, affected by biology and, to a large extent, our circumstances, preferences, and lifestyles. Therefore, contrary to the all-encompassing stereotypes, some people will grow in wisdom, but others won’t. Some elders will experience severe illnesses and need institutional care, but over 90% of seniors will live independently in their own houses. The truth is that stereotyping drowns out individuality, replacing it with a hypothetical “old person” instead.
No wonder in a poll of Canadian elders, 41% reported being ignored or treated as if they were invisible, 38% believed people assumed they had nothing to contribute, and 27% thought people presumed they were incompetent.