Ageism is a real problem and one of the biggest challenges facing retirees. Ageism can take several forms, including discrimination for employment or volunteer opportunities, underestimating older adults or ignoring older adults.
Some ageism is subliminal and committed without malicious intent, but that doesn’t mean it is okay. There are several ways you can work to stop the stigma and help end ageism:
Recognize Ageism When It Happens
The first step to overcoming ageism is to recognize it when it happens. Not all ageism is overt and obvious, but there are several signs that someone is engaging in ageism, including:
- Inappropriate or hurtful jokes about age;
- Passive aggressive comments about age;
- Derogatory remarks about one’s ability related to age;
- Making assumptions based on age.
Another potential concern is when someone makes decisions for a retiree that they could make themselves. Family members are not immune from engaging in ageism behavior! It’s essential to look for these signs that ageism is happening, so you can do something to stop it.
Speak Out Against It
Sometimes, all it takes to stop ageism behavior is to speak out. It can also be helpful to explain why it is wrong, hurtful, and even against policies and protocols in some situations.
It can be compelling when younger generations step up and speak against ageism. For people who are subliminally exhibiting ageist behavior, sometimes they need to be told why what they are doing is considered ageist, even if they didn’t mean it that way.
It may only change if speaking up to correct the behavior. However, speaking out against ageism does not have to result in a negative or hostile situation. Speaking out can be done calmly from a place of understanding.
Work to Be Inclusive
Ageism is not always overt, derogatory, and rude. It can be as simple as assuming an older adult does not want to partake in an activity because of age, health condition, or mobility.
All generations should work not to make assumptions about what older adults may or may not want to do. Retirees can make their own decisions, and taking opportunities away because of ageist assumptions can be very harmful.
Friend groups, families, and younger generations should be age-inclusive. Inviting older adults to events, suggesting new activities, or calling for advice can make that happen.
Build Relationships with Other Generations
Many younger generations do not have exposure to retirees outside of their grandparents. Grandparents and retirees should strive to build a close bond with younger individuals to break harmful stereotypes. Building relationships with older adults can help them look past those stereotypes and find common ground. Building relationships across generations can involve moving out of the comfort zone, but it is essential to reach out and make an effort.
Don’t Give Up—Stay Positive
It can be easier said than done, but overcoming ageism won’t happen with a negative mindset. Treating ageism with negativity and defeat will worsen the situation and contribute to other ageist behavior. It’s also helpful to recognize that ageism is not a problem that will solve overnight. It is a persistent issue that takes consistent effort to overcome.
Fighting Ageism at Vineyard Senior Living
At Vineyard Senior Living, we work to help all residents live life to the fullest, including assisting them in overcoming ageism. Our staff understands how painful ageist behavior can be, and we consistently strive to recognize it, speak out against it, and ensure it doesn’t happen again. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our programs and communities.