Three Tips to Combat Stereotypes About Aging

The World Health Organization describes ageism as the stereotyping and discrimination against people based on age. Every day, older adults are overlooked for employment, misunderstood by younger generations and negatively labeled by the media, which leads to harmful effects on their wellbeing.

Ageist misconceptions carry across societies with the most prevalent stereotypes including labels of dependency, lethargy and frailty. Others include perceptions uncovered by the Royal Society for Public Health, which expose harmful perceptions related to memory and appearance.

Fortunately, we can fight damaging assumptions on aging by gaining a new understanding of the topic. When we no longer look at the word “old” in a bad light, we make room for acceptance and permit older adults to experience happiness, freedom and greater health. Below are three tips to combat stereotypes about aging.

  1. Create Intergenerational Programming

 A 2019 study published by the American Journal of Public Health reveals intergenerational and educational programs have a substantial effect on youth, in particular, when it comes to attitudes, knowledge and comfortability with the elderly. Volunteer organizations teaching others about aging misconceptions as well as after-school programs working to foster friendships across generations through creative programming can offer practical solutions.

  1. Promote Workplace Diversity

Hiscox Insurance Company discloses ageism remains a persistent issue for companies with 44 percent of employees reporting involvement with age discrimination in the workplace. A simple resolution exists in the area of promoting workplace diversity which can include training on recognizing and rejecting assumptions about older workers, recruitment strategies that avoid age bias as well as retention efforts that are committed to a multi-generational structure.

  1. Limit Negative Effects of the Media

 According to The Centre de Recerca en Economia Internacional (CREI), mass media is a key source of information for a majority of the population. It can do everything from change public beliefs to influence people’s behavior. As a result, different groups can sometimes suffer based on misrepresentation. We can limit negative stereotypes in the media by recognizing age-related assumptions when we see them. From there, we can resist their influence, educate ourselves and shine the light on positive facts through social media, events on ageism and contact with the media.

Ageism is destructive when it comes to the life of older adults. Older people tend to adopt society’s negative attitudes toward aging and personal opinions are so influential that scientists estimate negative age-related beliefs can shorten a senior’s life by 7.5 years. Luckily, we can use these three tips to combat stereotypes about aging and gain a new understanding of elders by all generations. This knowledge can result in the improvement of human happiness and health.