Ageism Essay

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Today, elderly people in the United States are isolated from the rest of the world. Most of them live in nursing homes where they are far away from their families. Others live by themselves where they have no family members visiting them and leaving them to take care of everything. Some researchers believe that ageism, in the form of negative stereotypes, directly affects longevity. In a study published by the American Psychological Association, Yale School of Public Health professor Becca Levy and her colleagues concluded that old people with positive perceptions of aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those with negative images of growing older (Associated Press, 2004). Levy said many Americans start developing stereotypes about the elderly during childhood, reinforce them throughout adulthood, and enter old age with attitudes toward their own age group as unfavorable as younger people’s attitudes (Associated Press, 2004). The elderly are most frequently depicted as helpless, unproductive, senile and overly demanding rather than deserving. This is known as ageism. Ageism is defined as prejudice and discrimination against older people (Solutions, 2010). Ageism can lead to social isolation. An example of ageism is an employer not hiring a 65 year old woman because of her age instead of her experiences. According to a 2001 Duke University survey, 80 percent of Americans ages 60 and older have experienced ageism (UOPX Writer Network, 2010). Survey participants reported experiences ranging from people assuming they had memory problems or were impaired physically to jokes poking fun at the elderly. 31 percent of those surveyed said that they were regularly ignored or not taken seriously due to their age group. Even greeting cards and novelty companies mock the elderly. They call them “over the hill” and have coffin gift boxes that have prune juice and anti-aging soap in it. Elderly people today feels obligated to continue to work instead of retiring. One...
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