Friday Flash Poll: Ageism

The growing number of older Australians offers untapped potential benefits for the nation, yet they are often viewed as out of touch, old hat, past it and useless.

Not only is this incredibly disrespectful, but it’s a wasted opportunity.

Think of all the life experience wasted, all the skills no longer taught, the knowledge, the memories that are in the heads of older people. What am I saying? You know exactly what I’m saying!

Ageism runs rife throughout the country and it takes many forms. From out-and-out rudeness to subtle, yet just as hurtful and insidious, comments. Negatively stereotyping older people is a condition that psychology Professor Mike Nicholls of Flinders University believes is ingrained in the social psyche.

There are almost 700 million people in the world over the age of 60. By 2050, that number will increase to 2 billion – more than 20 per cent of the world’s population will be 60 or older.

So, it goes without saying that ageism is a problem we need to tackle now.

How then, do we learn to overcome ageism and eradicate the often-unfair stereotyping of older people? Some scientists say that we learn best from our mistakes.

In an effort to find out where and when ageism occurs most, as well as the attitudes of older people towards ageism (many older people are just as guilty of ageism as younger people), we thought we’d run our Friday Flash Poll on the subject.

After all, if a measure of a society is how it treats the most vulnerable, then how we treat our older people is one such standard. Learning how ageism works and how it affects the afflicted is the first step to tackling this issue.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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