Webster’s dictionary defines ageism as ‘prejudice or discrimination against a particular age-group and especially the elderly’.
We face ageism throughout our lives. When I was twelve, I was too young to continue the swimming lessons I was enrolled in!
Isn’t age irrelevant?
Part of our mission at Age Friendly Guelph is to accommodate the differences in aging – to reduce barriers and eliminate pre-conceptions.
When it comes to ageism, I see there are a couple of ways we can all make a difference.
First, create awareness.
In a local supermarket I checked out behind a gentlemen likely in his late seventies or eighties. Checking out didn't go well – or quickly. I got irritated.
I asked myself “Why do older people take so long, be so disorganized, act so helpless?” Then, “Whoa! Stop! Talk about ageism! I’m as bad as anyone – and I’m in the middle of writing an article about it!” That was a shocker.
It forced me to think hard about my own age-based attitudes. I discovered that even though I consider myself open and understanding, I have pre-conceptions about different ages that affects my judgment about people. Is it just me?
The second way I see making a difference is accommodating the needs of different generations. I’m not a store expert – and I know many retailers take age-awareness seriously.
However, watching the gentlemen struggle in front of me this week made me wonder what else might improve his shopping experience. What technology or different organization of the shopping process might benefit him and others?
I just want to get older and be happy. Happy with today. Happy with being open to new things, people, and experiences. Are you? What pre-conceptions do you have about elders, older people, seniors, getting old? I would love to hear your thoughts.
For more information about how you can support or get involved with Age Friendly Guelph, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or visit guelph.ca/agefriendly.
by Karen McElroy, Age Friendly Guelph Leadership Team member, CEO Boardroom Metrics Inc.