Monday, October 8, 2018
Ageism and Longevity
“Ageism”- a word I was not familiar with before the Dale Association. Perhaps the meaning is unheard of by others, too. What is ageism? Ageism is defined as prejudice against older people. It’s pretty widespread in its various forms. Ageism implies that as soon as a person can be described as old they are automatically considered of little value, or a burden on society, or slow to accept change, or unable to look up at themselves, or a whole myriad of negative images. Not so, couldn’t be further from the truth. We are in the midst of a longevity revolution – with the average life expectancy increasing. Instead of the rare individual reaching age 85 and older, most of us have an excellent chance of making it to this age. Today’s active adult is more vital, remains mentally stimulated and physically active as a result of participating in various recreational, educational and social activities. The sooner we combat the negative societal perceptions of older people as non-valuable and non-productive the sooner the off-putting label called ageism will be minimized. Older people are part of the cycle of life and positive perceptions should replace the traditional pessimistic stereotype of the aging. This is a time to acknowledge the significant contributions of older adults and renew our commitment to the well being of older adults and the living of their golden years in good health. Not only are people living longer, a greater percentage of the population is older, and that trend will continue - with the emergence of the national “Elder Boom” that we are in the midst of and will continue in the coming years. By 2020, the over 65 population in the U.S. is projected to double and the number of Americans over 85 is expected to be more than quadruple in the same time period. There will soon be more older people in the U.S. than younger people. Older adults are a growing and increasingly vital part of our country. The contributions they make to our communities are varied, deeply rooted, and include influential roles in the nation’s economy, politics, and the arts. I have the pleasure of spending my days with many, many older adults who have made a real difference and a distinct positive contribution to this community.