May 4

Advocating For All Ages

By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

Unfortunately, we continue to be plagued by a major dilemma here in the United States and many other parts of the world.

We live in a culture that covets and glorifies youth and in a society that is constantly seeking elixirs that will help one avoid aging.

Rather than looking at the positive side of growing older such as creating opportunities to lead healthier and happier lives filled with vitality and purpose, hitting the age of 50 means you are “Over the Hill.”

Rather than seeing older adults as one of our greatest underutilized human resources, older adults are viewed as a burden on society. Old are pitted against the young.

A couple of weeks ago, I have had the opportunity to be part of a Zoom meeting hosted by the Global Coalition on Aging. The topic was “Solutions to Combat Ageism: Leading with Solutions to Unlock the Power of Older Age.”

Last week, I listened as host Kate Byrne interviewed Maddy Dychtwald about “Has Silicon Valley Become the Poster Child for Ageism?.” Maddy is a co-founder of Age Wave, a thought leader on issues relating to aging. Click here to listen to the interview that was posted on the Media Village website. 

From what I heard and have been reading about Ageism, there is both good news and discouraging signs.

On the positive front, for instance, Maddy Dychtwald mentioned that across the age spectrum, people are turning the perceived notions of how we are supposed to feel, behave, and act at a certain age on their heads. People are simply refusing to act their chronological age.

She posed a great question about how we define old age. Traditionally, or at least since Social Security was established in 1935, old age has been defined as 65. At that time, average life expectancy was 61. Now that life expectancy has increased to 79, why do we continue to define old age as 65?

Dychtwald also pointed out that age is a predictor of success, but not in the ways many people would expect. Data indicates older entrepreneurs, men and women 50+, are thriving right now and the highest rate of success comes from older entrepreneurs, founders who are middle age and up.

She highlighted several companies that she feels are doing a good job at helping to fight ageism. Morgan Stanley has a “Return to Work” program, and General Motors has a “Take 2” program. The programs are designed to provide older workers with the skills necessary to integrate them back into the workforce.

Other positive news includes:

The New York City Department for the Aging is conducting an Ageless New York campaign designed to help change the narrative and put an end to the stereotypes about aging. Click here to read more.

Here is a link to a 30-second Ageless New York campaign video that was posted in March.

Also in March, the World Health Organization published a Global Report on Ageism. The report outlines a framework for action to reduce ageism and build a movement to change the narrative around age and aging. The goal is to create a world for all ages. Click here to read more.

Generations United is a non-profit organization that believes in a world that values and engages all generations. It has projects and programs designed to strengthen intergenerational connections. Click here to read more about GU. 

What is discouraging is hearing that ageism is certainly very much alive. It is rampant in workplaces, our marketplaces, and our lives, Dychtwald contends. A lot of the tech companies are the worst when it comes to discriminating on the basis of age, and marketers tend to view everyone 50 years and older as the same. They are in the habit of dividing people into segments based on their age, but they stop at age 50. They lump everyone in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond together, she said.

Among the speakers during the Solutions to Combat Ageing” virtual meeting was Ashton Applewhite, author of the book “This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism.” In the book, Applewhite explores the roots of ageism, debunks myths about aging, and exposes the impact of ageism on all of us.

In a Blog posted on March 21, 2021, Applewhite reflected on the year of the coronavirus from the perspective of an anti-aging activist.

Applewhite contends that the pandemic did not make ageism worse; it exposed what has been there all along and has brought prevailing attitudes about aging out into the open. Click here to read the Blog. 

From my point of view, to combat ageism we need to Advocate for Every Age.

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