Equality for (Almost) All (Unless They’re Old)

The movie “The Intern,” with Robert de Niro and Anne Hathaway, has a lot to teach about what it means to be a leader and treat colleagues, superiors, and employees humanely, especially for women in leadership. The idea of the film is to show that it is never too late to learn the “basics”: just as a 70-year-old man can learn to use Facebook, young people can be kind to their co-workers. 

The term ‘ageism’ was introduced by Robert Butler in 1969. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes ageism as the stereotyping and discrimination against people based on their age. Every day, there are instances where older adults are misunderstood by the younger generations and negatively labeled by the media, affecting their mental health and well-being.

Much like other forms of discrimination, ageism negatively impacts older people. Some might not be significantly affected by ageism, but for others, it could result in lowered self-respect and lack of motivation. This, in turn, results in decreased quality of life and increases the risk of mental health issues among the elderly.

Here are five tips to counter ageism:

1. Spread awareness through creative programs

2. Promote workplace diversity

3. Limit adverse effects of the media: the media plays a massive part in creating positive and negative labels for everything. The perception of any group of people, including older people, affects how the group is portrayed in the news, media, television, film, and in advertisements. They have millions of regular viewers, and this can lead to a negative impact among them concerning seniors.

4. Aging – a verb, not a noun: aging is a process we all go through at some point in life. Thus, it should only be used as a verb and not a noun. Using it as a noun is like defining older people.

5. Avoid using patronizing language: avoid using patronizing sentences like “he is 70 years young” or “you look good for your age.” Older adults never appreciate it because even though it comes off as being sweet, it is just a constant reminder that they are aging, making them feel older.

Pandemic job loss affected millions of Americans, but for one group, Americans 55 and over, the impact continues.

About a 1/3 of the American workforce is over the age of 50 and according to a poll by AARP, 78% of older adult workers say they’ve seen or have experienced age discrimination in the workplace.

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