Effects Of Ageism And How To Combat With It
“Aren’t you too old to be wearing that?” “Aren’t you too young to manage a company?” “You handle finance so well at your age.” “Gym is not for you, you should try yoga.” We have all at least once used or have been subjected to ageism in our life.
Ageism is discriminating against an individual on the basis of age. Being prejudiced against people based on their age. This prejudice involves having negative stereotypes about people across ages.
Robert N. Butler, gerontologist was one of the first people to use the word AGEISM to describe discrimination in older adults. But now the use of the term ‘ageism’ has a broader spectrum. It is now considered a type of age-based discrimination involving children, younger adults, adults or older adults.
Ageism has been most commonly witnessed in the workplace. Whether it is job opportunities or salary, people often face ageism at their workplace.
- Younger adults face ageism while looking for a job and often are offered a low salary because of being too young.
- Young people lose jobs because they are thought to have very less or no experience.
- While older adults are often considered to have had a very little experience of the latest technologies.
- They face ageism during promotions assuming that they won’t be able to handle the pressure at that age.
- Older adults face a bit of a challenge while shifting careers or finding a new job altogether.
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Prejudice/Sterotypes Contributing To AGEISM
Prejudice pertaining to age affects people of all ages in a similar fashion. Here are some stereotypes that contribute to ageism:
1. Succession: Many young adults have a prejudice about older adults that they have given all that they had. They think that elderly should stick to their comfort zone and let the young ones move ahead. They assume that old people cannot adapt to change like they do.
On the other hand, often older adults like to assume that young people are too naïve to hold the reins. They have a prejudice that the younger lot is not serious enough.
2. Consumption: Many-a-times young people assume that the older generation has had their time. They feel the need to spend the limited resources on themselves. They think that the upcoming fast racing world is for them.
Nonetheless, older adults feel that limited resources should not be left in the inexperienced hands of the younger lot. They have a prejudice that young people are impulsive and irresponsible and will end up wasting the resources.
3. Identity: Both young and older adults think that the other should stick to their age. Young assume that the old want to fit in their world and vice-versa. Both hold a prejudice that the other wants to steal their identity by behaving in a manner which is away from their age.
According to a study conducted in the United States, every second person we know has displayed or has been subjected to ageism. Beginning from home, to work, to public places, to hospital, age bias is everywhere.
HOW DOES AGEISM AFFECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH?
Ageism is a kind of discrimination which is so common that it has almost camouflaged itself. Ageism affects you more than you think it does. Most people face ageism throughout their lives unaware of how it is attacking your mental health. Let’s look at some effects of ageism on our health:
- Depression: You often feel incompetent because of the degree at which negative ideologies are attached to ageism. Those negative stereotypical notions shatter our self-image. You may start to question your skill. There is a high chance that you might evaluate yourself from their point of view. All this negativity can drag you into depression.
- Anxiety: The feeling of not being enough makes us all anxious. When we are subjected to ageism we often try to prove our worth. Which takes a lot of effort and often leaves us in stress. The constant need to prove yourself and make your mark, fosters anxiety. Your mind is never at rest and you are never at peace.
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- Low self-esteem: The constant reminder of being too young or too old shackles your self-esteem. No matter how hard you work, your age always comes first. And this is what breaks you.
Your mental health is important and anything that tries to come is the way should be tackled in the right way. Have you ever faced ageism? Do you want to know how to combat ageism? Read on…
How To Deal With AGEISM?
No one should ever be discriminated against by their age. We deserve better. Just with a little bit of effort can make your life so much easier. Let’s find out:
1. Be vocal: Speak up for your rights. Do not let others dictate your fate. You are never too old or young to achieve something you really desire. You might sometimes want to just succumb to the pressure, take a deep breath and put yourself out there. Be heard!
2. Be Active and Aware: Train yourself physically and mentally. Read the news, make yourself equipped, and be aware of the present. Engage with the world.
3. Be positive: Push all your negative thoughts away and focus on the positive. Your attitude has a lot to do with how you deal with ageism.
4. Avoid learnt helplessness: Don’t let anyone draw a line for you and put you in a cage. Be as independent as you can. Only you can set your own limits. Don’t stop until you are satisfied.
5. Surround yourself with positive people: Be with people who can be a source of motivation and encouragement. Have an inner circle where you can build a growth promoting environment which benefits all and judges none.
Many times we display ageism without even knowing it. Perhaps sometimes we choose to not do anything about it. Ageism is not going to vanish on its own. Step up and make the change happen.
WAYS TO COMBAT AGEISM!
1. Recognize it: To solve a problem you need to acknowledge the existence of the very problem first. We can’t change something that we think is alright. Hence recognizing it is the first step.
2. Identify: Identifying and pointing out ageism can spread awareness. We must speak up if we ever witness ageism. The motive is not to ridicule someone but to make them aware that they might be displaying or are being subjected to ageism.
3. Question yourself: Would you like to be discriminated against? I hope not. Treat all ages with respect. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
4. Give yourself a break: If you think that you have indulged in ageism, correct yourself and move on. You now know that all ages have great things to offer so don’t beat yourself up for the past. Make changes for the future and be open.
You’re not too young and it’s never too late. No human deserves to face ageism, sexism, racism or any kind of discrimination for that matter. We are all the same, made of flesh and blood.
Be aware of ageism against young and elderly and speak up.
I hope my intentions of explaining ageism have come across well. It’s high time to drop that prejudice against age. It’s quite evident how ageism affects the elderly and the young, we as a society should combat ageism, together!
Remember, age is just a number!
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Take care! Stay safe!