An everyday challenge for seniors is ageism – a prejudice against people for their age. It’s no secret that seniors face an uphill battle when it comes to stereotypes about their age. However, long gone are the days of the stereotypical “old person.” Today’s seniors are redefining what it means to age well and research is backing up their attitudes, showing that a positive outlook has many benefits.
Are Stereotypes on Aging Changing?
A recent study surveyed more than 500,000 Americans online and found that as people age, they continue to feel younger. People know that they are aging, but they are evaluating themselves and their lives and reporting feeling about 20% younger than their current age.
The threshold for “old age” continues to change as one ages, people could be perpetually pushing what is considered an older adult into the future. Research shows that positive feelings about aging and oneself is what results in a decreased risk of dementia and greater longevity.
Conveying a Different Outlook
If seniors are feeling good about aging, why are there so many negative stereotypes about aging in society?
Negative views on aging are conveyed to us through books, media, and movies early in life, and what our family and friends tell us. Those behaviors are already present and ingrained in childhood, so obviously it’s difficult to make meaningful changes to these attitudes, but that’s what we’re trying to do right now.
Fighting negative stereotypes about aging in our society:
1. Create More Friendships
The best way to combat negative stereotypes is by meeting more senior citizens on your own. Interact with people to understand the story of their lives and their particular challenges. Gain wisdom which can only be learned from a well-lived life.
2. Embrace new images of people who don’t fit the stereotype
Consider the seniors who do not fit the stereotype of an older person. This could be a cherished friend, a famous person or a group of older athletes.
3. Put yourself in their shoes.
Once you have a grasp on what their day is like, think about how that will make you feel. How would you feel if you felt people were looking down on you because of your age?
4. Replace stereotypes.
Become aware of your own stereotypes, then fight them on a personal level. Instead of assuming a senior needs help, consider asking them if they would like assistance. Alter your own assumptions first.
5. Understand the challenges seniors face every day.
Think about a particular senior and walk through their day. What is it like for them to be characterized by damaging stereotypes?
The Victorian is an assisted living and retirement community that makes living independently, while at the same time feeling safe and secure, a reality. We strive to provide the best quality of life for all residents including those suffering from loneliness and depression.
We offer a comprehensive activity program that includes both physical and social activities to encourage emotional well-being. Our staff is trained to assist those with depression. If you or a loved one are considering assisted living, contact The Victorian today to learn more about our services or tour our community.