CATONSVILLE, MD (August 15, 2016) – "I am so tired of being called sweetie or honey just because I have gray hair," writes Charlestown retirement community resident Ann MacKay in her new blog entitled Stop Ageism Now. And she is determined to do whatever she can to to help destroy negative stereotypes of aging.
"Yes, I know 'hon' is a name of endearment here in Baltimore," writes MacKay, a former geriatric nurse and association manager. "If you know me, most people will not describe me as sweet. Do you notice their voice takes on a different tone? I notice. What we are dealing with here is ageism. It is the last 'ism' that people can get away with now."
MacKay cites the following examples of ageism in society:
"Jokes from comedians and talk show hosts about old age and memory loss.
Elderspeak by health care people.
Younger adults mock us for being "slow" and we olders get impatient with people our own age using walkers or rollators.
Commercial advertisements depict us as being out of date, and lacking knowledge about modern culture and new technologies.
Age discrimination in the workplace when people need to work longer because the days of 'retirement with a pension' are over."
She notes Ageism was first coined by Robert Bulter, who said it is a form of discrimination and prejudice, particularly experienced by older people. Most older people are mentally and physically active regardless of age with a great deal to contribute, according to MacKay
"However, our societal norms marginalize us, treat us with disrespect, make us feel unwelcome and otherwise generalize as if we are all the same. In reality, as we grow older we are more different than alike," she writes.
"Except for changes in our physical appearance and experiencing more physical problems, being 'old' feels no different from how we feel now or when we were young. I remember my 89-year-old grandmother saying, 'When I look in the mirror, I see an old woman with wrinkles and white hair, but I feel like I am 20.' My mother said the same thing when she was in her nineties. So an old person is a young person who has just lived longer," she writes.
MacKay thinks society is in denial about the aging process. "I am so tired of articles about 'successful aging' which detail how to look younger by eating a certain way or how to dress after 60 or what kind of moisturizer will stop the wrinkles," she writes. "If there are articles about aging, they highlight the outliers that run marathons or bungee jump at age 94 or the same state of being older."
MacKay writes it is important for people to become aware of situations where ageism rears its head.