Ageism in America

1709 Words Mar 29th, 2006 7 Pages
Ageism in America

The term "ageism" was coined in 1969 by Robert Butler, the first director of the National Institute on Aging. He used the word to describe the process of systematic stereotyping of people because they are old. Ageism is a term that is similar to other ‘isms ' in society, such as racism and sexism. "Ageism allows other generations to see older people as different from themselves; thus they subtly cease to identify with their elders as human beings" (Butler, 1975). All people, including the young as well as the old, can be discriminated against based on age. Today ageism is more broadly defined as any prejudice or discrimination against or in favor of an age group (Palmore, 1990). The Census Bureau estimates
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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. Levy said many Americans start developing stereotypes about the elderly during childhood, reinforced them throughout adulthood, and enter old age with attitudes toward their own age group as unfavorable as younger people 's attitudes (Levy, Slade, MD, Kasl, SV, 2002). While, in general, the elderly are considered a negative part of American society, some cultures around the world place great honor and bestow high status onto the elderly members of their society. Concerning the aging process, elders are respected for their knowledge and experience. In fact, in some cultures, it becomes their responsibility to pass down their wisdom and learning to the younger members of society. In Native American cultures, all members of a tribe care for the elderly. Death is an accepted fact of natural life, not to be approached with fear. The soul is believed to be immortal, in the sense of experiencing a "changing of worlds" (Deloria, 1973). In countries in the East, growing older is an outward sign of one 's increase in knowledge and experiences. Since this positive attitude of aging is passed from one generation to the next,

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