CULTURE

Individuals make sense of their lives by internalizing their culture’s values.

We know some societies hold high regard for their elders (for example, Japanese, Korean, and Native American cultures) while other countries disparage aging and value youth (such as most Western developed countries). What a society values will determine the social status and self-perception of any group. Stigmas and prejudices are created, and expectations determine worth and personal growth. Where youth is fetishized, aging can become a shameful experience. Older people can be ignored and sometimes warehoused—making us a marginalized group.

Ageism, like any ism, is a socially constructed prejudice. We confront ageism in the way society views us, and we internalize it. It becomes our identity. Many of us tend to disassociate ourselves from the word senior because of the negative connotation. But more recently, this generation is fighting back. More of us are coming around to accepting our age and calling attention to ageism.

This space explores cultural values and how they affect our quality of life after 60. It looks at the ways we can challenge the current view of growing old and perhaps be role models for future generations.

Coming of Age in Aging America

FACT:

What will it mean for us all to grow up, live and age in a society where half the citizens are over the age of 50? Never in human history has this been our reality. And it’s not just Americans. Europe, China, Japan — we are an aging globe. It’s new & it’s not temporary this is a permanent historic transformation.

RESOURCES

Groups / Organizations

 

A Tribe Called Aging

The Pioneer Network (Changing the culture of aging in the 21st century)

Books

This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Agism, Ashton Applewhite (also a website/blog that addresses ageism—Applewhite is an advocate for a new vision of aging and her website is a valuable resource)

Ending Ageism or How Not to Shoot Old People, Margaret Morganroth Gullette, 2017, Rutgers University Press (addresses ageism as the next cultural movement of our time)

Video

Let’s End Ageism, Ashton Applewhite, TED talk

Myths and Realities of an Aging Society, Jack Rowe, MD (A lecture at the Harvard University Center for Population and Development Studies, Dr. Rowe presents a  rethinking of the lifecourse)