AGEISM AND HOW IT EFFECTS SOCIETY?

20 Jan 2022

Curtain Hug


AGESIM? What is that? …..
Let us see!!
‘Ageism’, is a term which refers to stereotypes (how we think) about/towards others or our own selves based on the ‘Age’.
History of Ageism (It’s previous meaning)-
The term ‘ageism’ was given by Robert Neil Butler in 1969 to define discrimination against seniors and was patterned on Sexism and Racism. Originally it was identified towards old age and the process of ageing. Discriminatory practices towards senior citizens was the only definition of ageism.

Meaning of ageism as of now-
Ageism now refers to discriminatory practices towards an individual belonging to any age group. For example: Denying rights to children and adolescents due to less age, they are perceived to be dependent beings who need to be kept under the supervision of an elder always and should not be given the power to exercise their rights is a prime example of ageism breaking the myth that ageism only means discriminatory acts towards elderly people ‘only’.

There are different types of Ageism-
Implicit Ageism- Negative feelings/thoughts derived through stereotypes in a person unconsciously.
Government Ageism- Laws and policies which are unfair to youth or elders of a country.
Stereotyping- Categorizing people on the basis of their age.
Ageist Prejudice- The cognitive process of stereotyping, which results in discriminatory behaviors.
Digital Ageism- The prejudices faced by older adults in the digital world.
Visual Ageism- The social practice of visually under-representing or mis-representing older people.

How does ageism affect everyone?
It affects everyone, irrespective of their age, gender, race, caste or disability.
Ageism builds a perspective into people’s minds about judging their and other’s capabilities, potential, and abilities on the basis of age. As we know that ‘Age’ is a factor which usually determines one’s physical capabilities as, with age one becomes more prone to physical diseases/disorders. But that does not determine their knowledge, intellect, experience, potential hence their capabilities, abilities, willingness to work should not be underestimated.
Who does ageism affect?
Ageism can affect a small child resulting in forming his/her trajectory according to his/her feelings and behaviors towards people of different age , same can seen affecting the lives of adults and older people.

Prevalence of ageism in the world-
Ageism is prevalent in the whole world, amongst the people of all ages. From job opportunities, health care institutions, hiring organizations to friendships and management of one’s personal relationships. Ageism can be found in all the above mentioned aspects/factors.

How does it affect the ‘Society?
Ageism effects society in many ways:-
Succession: Suggests that older people should step down from high-paying jobs and prominent social roles to make way for the younger aspirants.
Identification: The idea that suggests that older people should not act younger than they are.
The above mentioned ideas, result in experienced minds and deserving individuals (who are older in chronological age), suffer unemployment and put the companies at risk of loss due to the removal of the experienced and bright individuals as an effect of ageism. Also, it makes the older people feel useless and lack the required amount of energy to do tasks that are meant for young people in or outside a professional setup.
Other factors of ageism affecting society-
Inequality: It elevates the inequalities already existing in the society amongst people of all age groups.
Concept of ‘Ageing’: It strengthens the negative belief in people, that ageing is a negative process, whatever a person goes through while ageing, is all negative including the consequences of ageing.
Generational gaps: Ageism draws a line of separation between the generations, which in turn creates a huge gap between the generations.
Biasedness regarding age in service provision: Provisions of services at healthcare or social services providing institutions over treat or under treat people of older age creating marginalization amongst society.

How can we fight or eradicate ageism?

We cannot really guarantee the eradication of a certain mindset which is so widespread and easy to develop. But there still are some strategies which can be put to work to be able to reduce this stereotype. These are:-
Law & Order- Some policies or laws can be, rather should be, made to help eliminate discrimination and inequality on the basis of age in every possible aspect in the society.
Education & Curriculum- The curriculum designers should design certain activities, exercises which include the child’s or student’s interaction with elder people, so as to instill respect, neutrality, and an unbiased approach towards the process of ageing. Also, certain values can be instilled in children/youth in educational institutions that can eradicate such a mindset that strengthens ‘ageism’.
Intergenerational Bonding- Nowadays, due to a busy lifestyle , intergenerational bonding between baby boomers and generations X,Y & Z, is a distant dream which has strengthened ageism even more. So to eradicate ageism, intergenerational bonding is crucial.