In ancient times the old we’re valued as teachers and mentors. They had the knowledge and experience that the younger population didn’t. But as the number of older persons increased, they were perceived as burdens to their families and to society in general. We now live in a modern age, and have what we would consider a civilized society. We are far from the barbaric tribes that would abandon the old and feeble in the wilderness to die alone. There is still however a large number of our older population that is discriminated against daily. In 1969 Robert Butler defined ageism as s “systematic stereotyping of and prejudices against people because they are old”. There is a cost associated with ageism. Like the prejudices against women (sexism) and race (racism), the impact of ageism is and will be considerable. Older people can and do play a major role in our social and economic development, but we fail to recognize their potential and deny them a significant role in our cultural life (Butler). Ageism theory has typically focused on the physical and mental changes in aging and the perceptions of uselessness and a diminished status that foster prejudices against elders (North, Fiske). In 1974, Bernice Neugarten was the first to identify subtypes of older people. She identified t...
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