Saturday, May 13, 2017


Since I grew up in South Georgia in the 50s and 60s I am quite familiar with the word prejudice.  Still whenever I hear it I automatically think of racial prejudice.  After all it was in my high school that the principal walked the corridor closing all class room doors before the first black student was ushered down the hall into class.  Prejudice comes in the forms of sex, race, religion, weight, economic status, education, nationality, and age to name a few.  Since prejudice is "preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or fact", the list can get quite long. 
The one I write about today is ageism.  It refers to preconceived ideas about older adults.  You see it with older adults being the joke. You see it in greeting cards.  You see it on TV, commercials and programs. You see it in the work place and I read recently that it starts as early as age 40.  I once heard on a TV show, " Don't try to compete with youth because youth always wins".   Today 13% of the population is over 65 but in 2020 24% will be over 65.  The National Institute on Aging reports the fastest growing segment of our population is the group 85 and older.  The 80+  year old older adults that I work with are cautious being concerned about falling, but most take the time to look out for others they see as needing help. They are fairly good at articulating their thoughts and we carry on meaningful conversations.  Often I hear that they feel dismissed by the medical community with comments such as "that is part of getting older". While computers and cell phones were not a part of their earlier years, they have a wealth of information with stories that are unbelievable.  In the years to come the world will have more people living into their 80s and 90s and even 100s.  Maybe we will be some of them and if so it is wise to remember now "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".  Or as my Mother always says, "Be nice to the old folks".

Resource: Exercise For Frail Elders by Elizabeth Best-Martini and Kim A. Botenhagen-DiGenova