Aging in human life is defined as an inevitable process that involve buildup of changes in the body over a given span of time. Ideally, these changes are exuded in the physical, social and mental changes overtime usually comprised of a gradual increase in susceptibility to human diseases and decrease in general body strength (Steptoe, 2015). In the contemporary society, this process introduces ageism as a concept alluding to the stereotypical aspects and prejudices in the society towards older people. According to WHO, ageism represents the stereotypes, perverted prejudices that result in discrimination against people based on their ages (WHO, n.d.). In other words, ageism represents a concept composed of three key elements, which include prejudicial attitudes towards people of the old age, discrimination against the old in all aspects of life and institutional practices that promote stereotyping about the older adults in this society (Nelson, 2004). However, the exploration of ageism as a concept allows one to understand how it affects the older adults as well as the society at large. While the contemporary society is faced with myriad social issues such as sexism and racism, ageism presents itself as an unnoticed social issue that is composed of various aspects and one that can be addressed through various effective measures or solutions.
Summary of Aging /Ageism Issues
The contemporary society in the US has a very specific perception of aging. In this, the public views aging as a negated aspect that results in dependency. From this perception, many of the people have ended up developing opposing perceptions towards aging and the aged people. In other words, while the public understands aging is an inevitable process, many have ended up fighting against it, something that has brought about division in the society (Sweetland, Volmert, & O’Neil, 2017). This division is exuded through the US vs. Them perceptions towards the old people as a distinct group of people in the society. Another predominant issue in ageism is that the public views the end result amongst the old people is as a result of poor choices being made. From this angle, it is ideal that the public argues out to the fact that self-discipline defines the choices made by the people before retirement or end of productive years thus will power to determine at what age to be well off.
Ageism is presented in the society as stereotypes, prejudices ad discrimination against the older adults in the society. With respect to this ideation, ageism can be seen as both voluntary and involuntary act that denies the use and access to certain resources in the society (Sweetland et.al, 2017). A social issue that connects to the voluntary or involuntariness of ageism is the fact that many people have no recognition to ageism as a social problem and rarely do they tend to think of it. With respect to this, the public behaves naturally, an aspect they tend to see as discriminative towards the old people, however, despite the failure to recognize the issue, the majority of them tend to know about aging and old people.
In the US, the public defines aging as an unstoppable process and view time passage as a march towards the age of dependency and deterioration. Ideally, the cultural contexts in the US have modeled perceptions towards modern life as difficult making it worse for many old people as platforms for isolation from the family and financial struggle are created (Sweetland et al., 2017). With respect to this therefore, the public has ended up contextualizing that aging as a bad experience given the surrounding aspects of distances from younger family members as well as unstable and unpredictable economy as defined by the culture. Another ideal issue in ageism is the fact that the public in the US has no clear comprehension of the demographical trends. More to this, the public perceives the US population to be growing younger and similarly to growth towards the old age. However, while some may have an understanding of the existing trends, the cultural context may hinder public policy response to the issue (Sweetland et al., 2017). In this, it is ideal that culture explains that problems should be solved more privately and by the people having them. Additionally, culture also ends up making people develop a model that the government is inefficient and involving it to respond to the social issue will slower the progress or magnify the issue.
In solving the battling up problem towards aging and the binary perception of the people, one viable solution would be to explicitly focus on breaking the lens through which the public view the older groups by emphasizing that aging is continuous process that each society member should undergo through. Ideally, creating awareness amongst the society members that aging is not individualistic rather an environmental aspect that support and shape the life of an individual. With respect to this, encouraging people to shift from individualistic to environmental perception of factors shaping one’s life will help in curving the issue of ageism (Sweetland et al., 2017). On the other hand, while the public may fail to recognize ageism as social issue, it is ideal that they have subconscious awareness of aging and the old people. Therefore, a possible solution to this unawareness to ageism as a social issue is that creating awareness amongst the public would help in building more respect for the old and minimizing unaware stereotyping and prejudices towards the old.
A possible solution for the faulty perceptions that aging is a march towards deterioration and dependency as viewed by the public due to failure to understand the demographical trend is that people should be made more aware of the trend as well as change the perception of aging to positive perception. In this changing of the mentality should involve encouragement to accept the aging is inevitable and that the perception of experiences surrounding old age is self-earned leisure and a period of accumulated wisdom.
Ageism in the contemporary society is a social issue that has been ignored for long, thus resulting in a creation of loopholes for high level of vulnerability of the old people. In relation to this, various issues have been identified to be implicitly ignored by the society, but in the long-run has brought about dire effects to the society, particularly to the old people. Reality check to these issues can be contextualized to be creation of awareness and enlightening the society to understand that following issues; that embracing aging will break the various binaries and bordered points of view that create a divided society, the outcomes of aging are shared across the society and not individualized, ageism is a social issue and that ideal cognitive approaches allow for people to accept aging and all its contexts. Another issue that need to be understood by the public is that emphasis on the effectiveness of the government and magnify the vitality of collective actions in the society. After achieving this goal, I will begin community-based partnerships with the local government to ensure that the public is able to understand the government’s position is to help improve the matter at hand. After this I would then propose new programs into the society to ensure that the position of the old people is improved by giving them a chance to continuously give back to the society through their skills. When these two strategies are proven to be effectively at the local level, I will then invite more partners within the state borders to continuously ensure the public and the role of government in alleviating ageism is optimized.
- Nelson, T. D. (2004). Ageism: Stereotyping and prejudice against older persons. MIT Press.
- Steptoe, A. D. (2015). Subjective wellbeing, health, and ageing. The Lancet, 385(9968),, 640- 648.
- Sweetland, J., Volmert, A., & O’Neil, M. (2017). Finding the frame: An empirical approach to reframing aging and ageism. Washington DC: FrameWorks Institute.
- WHO. (n.d.). Ageing and life-course. Retrieved from who.int: who.int/ageing/ageism/en/