Does ageism really matter?
Ageism is at the core of elder abuse and rests on a platform of disrespect and just like racism and sexism it allows human beings to be vilified, ridiculed, and devalued.
We now live in an era where social attitudes disproportionately value youth over age and where older people are portrayed as either irrelevant and out of touch, or frail, ill and of no value. Try buying a birthday card for anyone over 40 and the words and phrases state clearly and loudly that it’s undesirable to get older, and what is a natural process for everyone is now seen as a social problem. Research backs this with a paper in 2014  that found 98% of Facebook group descriptions of older adults reflected negative stereotypes.
What starts as harmless and humorous swiftly becomes internalised to impact our own beliefs and expectations about our own ageing. So the question is are we as older people inadvertently reinforcing these ageist clichés? Unlike other prejudice such as racism and sexism, ageing, applies to us all eventually so why do we join in when others take a free kick at the older generation?
Far from being a joke studies have shown time and again that assumptions and negative stereotypes about ageing emerge in individuals as poor health outcomes and reinforce feelings of loneliness and worthlessness.
These stereotypes are now so embedded in society and social media that only a concerted national campaign that combines legislation with education can begin to stop the abuse and marginalisation of older people.
As individuals we can make a start now and commit to rethinking our negative ideas and comments about our own age process. After all personal and social transformation goes hand in hand.
Please join us on Thursday June 15th to walk against elder abuse – departs Westella car park, 181 Elizabeth Street Hobart @ 2pm.
 (Levy et al.,2014a)