Everyone who was young will one day be old, but today we live in a startlingly youth-obsessed culture. It’s one that discriminates against the elderly in ways that society would consider shocking if the same discrimination were launched against gays or people of color.
Evidence of the Ageism Epidemic
The elderly feel invisible
Kyoko Hamada, a 40-year old photographer in New York, spent two years pretending to be an elderly woman in order to discover the experience and learn how people would treat her. She changed her hair, her wardrobe, and ever her walk in order to appear much older than she was. And she found that while a few people were helpful, most people treated her as if she simply didn’t exist.
She is not alone. The elderly in America feel marginalized, looked down on, or simply not looked at or noticed at all. “I feel invisible” is a common statement among people 60 and up. If you’ve ever been at a party where people didn’t bother to recognize your existence on the face of the earth, you know how painful this can be. And if you’re a naturally retiring or soft-spoken person, aging can further hurt your
The elderly face greater risk of job loss
Dan Lyons was 51 years old when he got fired from his job as a writer for a major news magazine. He tells his story in the book, Disrupted: My Misadventure In The Startup Bubble. When he finally did get a job, it was for much lower pay at a startup called HubSpot, a digital marketing company, where there was only one other person in the company who was his age. Though obviously far more skilled and qualified for his role, he consistently found his good ideas to be overlooked — or given to people far less gifted than him. His observations are keen, funny, and telling, not just about silicon valley, but about age discrimination
The AARP reports that 66% of workers between 45 and 74 say they have seen or experienced age discrimination at work, and even though it’s technically illegal, companies find a way around it. The hiring bias in companies everywhere tends to filter out older people with the excuse that they’re not a “culture fit” or “not in our price range,” causing the loss of the workforce segment with the greatest skill set and forcing many of those people to settle for retail or food industry jobs.
The elderly experience neglect and abuse
The instance of elder abuse and neglect is on the rise, and it doesn’t just happen in a nursing home or to people who no longer enjoy the use of their mental faculties. According to the National Council on Aging, approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse, and most cases never get reported.
What You Can Do About It
You can’t stop the aging process (and neither can any of the younger people who are currently stigmatizing aging), but you aren’t helpless. You do have the opportunity to make choices and use techniques that can help you to remain as competitive, visible, and protected as possible as you age.
- Stay as healthy as possible: With good health, you can do a lot more to advocate for yourself.
- Keep your skills fresh and attractive: Stay mentally alert and pursue further education if necessary.
- Have a persuasive argument when it comes to job seeking: “You get the maturity and low drama of an X-year-old, combined with the salary requirements of someone much younger.”
- Push back against age discrimination: We should do the same things we did to fight for women’s rights or battle racism.
- Fight negativity with positivity: If people are treating you as invisible, be the proactive one. Walk up, shake their hand, look them in the eye, greet them, and interact.
- Try looking younger: This is less of a long-term solution than a workaround. If you find that people respond better to you when you look and dress younger, it can alleviate some situations.
In this day of celebrating youth, it’s time for people of all ages to recognize that getting older enriches us.
Schedule a consultation with Rejuvime Medical for anti-aging treatments that make you feel as good as you look and look as good as you feel.