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Tag Archives: ageism
I wrote my first article for this online blog in June, 2015. I wrote about ageism, the wealth of aging boomers, and the generation born before the baby boomers, which I call the ‘Lucky Few’.
The next month, I wrote about 50s fashion, what old people worry about, and how no one wants to take our advice. I had a vague theme, a workable design and a great desire to finally write.
It didn’t take me long to realize that I had to maintain two separate lives, my regular life of activity and responsibility, and my online writing life, for which I had to get up at 5 am, so that I could write without distraction. I’ve done that every morning since, although I’m finding that now I can steal a few minutes from my regular life to write.
It’s been a tough year. Tough on the world, and tough on our emotions. Like me, you may have been waking up each morning, with an unsettled feeling that things are not quite right. The news is all around you—you know what has been going on and you can’t escape it. What can you do about it, you wonder—how can you help?
You might also be a bit resentful about it, thinking, “Haven’t I already contributed enough? Haven’t I done my share? Isn’t it time I could just sit back and enjoy my last years?”
By now, anyone over 50 must know there is a movement afoot to end ageist attitudes. We’ve been reading and hearing about this for awhile. It’s reached a point where we recognize the term, and understand some of it’s consequences. Maybe we’re ready now to move beyond discussing and intellectualizing it, to think about the actual language that expresses it.
It’s not easy. What is it about certain statements that anger and inflame us? What’s so wrong about saying, “You look so young for your age?”
Well, lots, it appears. That simple statement carries with it the implication that it is wrong to look a certain age—or old, in other words. And being old, in our culture means being unattractive, weak and dependent. Erasing that stereotype is what the anti-ageist movement is all about.
Defeating Ageism – Are Boomers Taking All the Credit?
I’m within spitting distance of being a Boomer, but I’m not proud of what some Boomers have been saying about the gains being made in addressing & defeating ageism. A lot has been happening around this thorny issue. Two or three years ago, there was barely a ripple on the topic in mainstream media, only an article or two in a newspaper or blog. Suddenly it’s everywhere, on Twitter, on Facebook, in pod casts, videos and blogs. It’s as if a faucet has been turned on and these ideas, which used to be relegated to the back pages—old people going on about being laughed at, ignored and excluded—have become a self-sustaining newsfeed.
As I enter our favorite coffee place, I can tell that my two friends, Marlene and Nancy are having a lively discussion. They are both pouring over an article, and Nancy is waving her iphone around, never a good sign.
“That doesn’t bother me at all,” Marlene is saying, “It’s just what everyone says, and we have always considered it harmless.”
“It’s not harmless!” Nancy puffs, “When somebody says things like, “50 is the new 20, or 60 is the new 40, or any stupid comparison like that, they are saying that being 50 or 60 or 70 for that matter, is not fashionable, or hip, or even acceptable!”
Sixty is the new forty!
You’re not getting older, you’re getting better!
15 ways to look and feel younger!
Five tips to stop the dreaded middle-age decline.
This super star model is 62, but easily passes for 39.
And this, my favourite:
“8 signs the incontinence aisle isn’t far off!”
Aging is bad.
You can fight it or you can laugh it off.
These slogans and headlines are culled from our contemporary literature—blogs, news items, and advertising that are the vanguard of our current thought. They urge us to deny the power and reality of aging. They admonish us to look and act young, and if we can’t, at least don’t look and act too blatantly, obviously old!
On one hand, they tell us that aging is horrible, it will diminish us, make us weak and ugly. We must fight it at all costs!
On the other hand they tell us that it isn’t that bad, if we just look at the bright side, if we just use nicer words, if we can just stay sweet, compliant, invisible.
It’s no secret that the young don’t see us. To them, we are invisible. We don’t turn up in magazines and newspapers, we are absent in television programs and news reports, and we are seldom featured in movies. Life goes on around us, but we are increasingly not present in public life. In the middle of a current political campaign in Canada, for instance, where hundreds of people line up behind the candidates as they speak, old people are seldom part of the audience, or interviewed for their opinion.
“nothing makes me so sad as when I go into some little old dear’s home…”
Not only was the woman in question referred to as “dear”, (see my article, “Don’t Call Me Dear”) she was further insulted by the use of one other cringe-worthy adjective, “little”. The ”old”, I decided, could stay. It was the only acceptable term in the whole reference.
As you age, losses come in many guises, a friend or loved one may die, you might lose your financial power, or you might lose your independence. These losses are major, and your recovery may require considerable effort, such as going for counselling or retreating from life for a while.
Yesterday morning, before I had my coffee I opened the fridge door and stood there. “What am I doing here?” I wondered aloud, (not to be mistaken for “Why do I exist?). It took me a few seconds to remember the item I wanted, and I moved on to make breakfast. But it stuck with me. A few days ago I found my socks in my make-up drawer, and last spring a tax rebate disappeared forever, it seemed. Well, I humphed, at least I didn’t find the eggs in the freezer, and the frozen pizza on the piano!
The first sign of impending old age, and it’s twin, Alzheimer’s, the pundits say, is the tendency of older people to put less effort into their social network. “Mum doesn’t go out much anymore”, adult children worry, “Her circle of friends is getting smaller and smaller.” It could be her health, they think, or maybe she’s depressed. She was always set in her ways, others may say, and as she gets older, this just gets worse. Or, worry of all worries, maybe she doesn’t feel she has anything to live for anymore.
Attitudes and Acrimony Across the Generations
We all know about the attitudes some younger people have towards elders—who hasn’t felt the frustration of being ignored by servers in a restaurant, or the sting of being spoken to in a condescending manner. A few weeks ago, I took a few minutes longer than was considered appropriate in vacating a parking spot, and was treated to body language which far exceeded the eye-rolling variety. Underneath that behavior, we know, is a barely disguised attitude among some younger people that old people are doddering and slow, and possibly not worthy of the space they occupy.