Ageism is Prejudicial
To be a successful caregiver, one must sort out and let go of myths and misconceptions and stay focused on the responsibilities of caregiving. –Author
he term ageism refers to discrimination and prejudice against the elderly. The term was introduced into the American vocabulary in 1971 by Robert Neil Butler, MD (January 21, 1927 – July 4, 2010). He was the first director of the National Institute on Aging. According to Doctor Butler, the three primary prejudicial attitudes seems to be: (1) old age, and the aging process; (2) discriminatory practices against older people; and (3) institutional practices and policies that perpetuate stereotypes about older people. Much of what passes for knowledge and understanding of aging are myths, misleading information, or just bad information.
Our youth oriented culture has developed a fear and prejudice against aging persons and unquestionably against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), intellectually and physically disabled seniors, and people of certain faith and spiritual beliefs. The ability to distinguish, fear and prejudice based upon myths and misconceptions from truths and facts about older adults is vital to eldercare success.
Ageism is not limited to America. It has become an international issue. There was a time when elders received respect for their knowledge and extensive memory of history. Two major historical events changed that perspective. The printing press allowed for sharing of knowledge and the industrial revolution sped us to a mobile society. Ageism seems to be rooted in the fear of the problems associated with growing old. Growing old will often require us to depend on others and lose a degree of independen...
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... can become an entrepreneurial engine and add to the health of the community.
Once communities discover ways to build a balanced infrastructure and services for both young and old, then perhaps issues of ageism will begin diminishing. America is aging fast. Community planning is running behind what seniors need to age in their home. Acknowledging and overcoming ageism and lifestyle biases and discrimination will make planning much easier. Review and try to understand your local community plan for senior and eldercare services. Ask the questions – Will the plan meet the needs of all seniors including LGBT, Native Indians, varying faiths, large groups of minorities and disabled citizens? How will you know the plan is working? The next step might involve volunteering to help plan or vote for local officials sensitive to issues of all citizens, not just the mainstream.
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