Advocating & Combating Ageism

 Combating ageism and advocating for the  elderly are issues that I am passionate about!  Health is what what my long nursing career has been focused on.   In order to address  physical health  and wellness of seniors, I realize that it is necessary to destroy or at least scale, the walls of ageism.  In order for the elderly to attain wellness , (the highest state of general health possible for them), we must be prepared to advocate for or “actively support”  them in doing so.  It will not just happen.  It’s a new year and many people have  already made resolutions.   Though I certainly need to exercise, eat better and relax more, I resolve instead to be a better advocate for the frail elderly and advocate for them at every opportunity I encounter or can create. 

Ageism is a phenomenon that is prevalent in our culture.  It is a general term defined as discrimination based on age.  Commonly applied to discrimination against the elderly,  it may apply to any age group.  Ageism towards the elderly manifests itself in many forms, some of which are blatant but others more subtle and disguised.  Jobs may be denied to senior applicants  because of their age, gray hair or older appearance.   The elderly are often not included in conversations or ignored when in public.  The perception of younger people may be that seniors are not computer savvy, or intelligent.  They are often treated with disrespect, even annoyance by all ages of society.   Ageism may appear as quite innocent behavior like  referring to older people as “sweetie” or “honey” rather than by their names but doing so can be patronizing to an older person.  They should first be asked how they would like to be referred to.  At times, ageism presents itself in very unlikely places.  Shockingly, I have even heard doctors and  nurses complaining that it was ridiculous to order physical therapy for an eighty-seven year old,  because he was ” too old”.  Interestingly, that eighty-seven year old had been very active prior to having had gall bladder surgery.  He would again be very active after recovering and physical therapy would certainly prove to be beneficial, (even cost effective), not ridiculous!  Lack of respect- Assumption- Ignorance- Generalization- Intolerance-Fear  All of these either contribute to or are results of ageism towards the elderly. 

My youngest daughter was part of a multi-age modern dance company from the time she was seven years old until the time she was an adult.  Even as a child, she was  treated as a  contributing member of the troupe and her  input was valued as much as the older dancers’ opinions and contributions were.  I think that her experience in that company contributed to the fact that she has always treated everyone respectfully whether they were five years old or eighty-five years old.  I wish that more people in our society could have similar  experiences.  Perhaps, if we were all valued, we would be more likely to value others for who they really are,  rather than seeing their thinning gray hair, wrinkles  or slow gait and assuming that they have nothing worthwhile to offer society.  Seniors are a treasure chest filled with unexpected wisdom and insight.

Combating ageism against the elderly is a battle that should begin (or continue) with each of us throughout this new year.  There is no place in our society and especially in the senior care industry for ageism!  All of us who work in healthcare, or any other industry that serves seniors, should resolve to be more aware of and less tolerant of ageism.  Seniors should have the same rights as people of all ages.  They should be treated with the same respect that all people deserve! If vulnerable, they should be protected.  They should be viewed as individuals and their problems approached as such.  I have no doubt that quality of life for the elderly would improve tremendously if ageism declined.  Health would improve as well and it would be more cost effective.  I challenge you to join me in my resolution to look for and create every opportunity possible to advocate for the elderly and defeat ageism.  It may seem like a huge feat but I believe even the smallest efforts can make a difference!  In the past, other walls have been toppled…

Wellness Wishes for the New Year!

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294 Responses to “Advocating & Combating Ageism”

  1. Derrick says:

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  2. mario says:

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  4. ricky says:

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  5. Mitchell says:

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  27. Mitchell says:

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  30. Ricky says:

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