Ageism and word choice go hand in hand. As a 57-year old who has worked in senior living for the past 15 years, I have seen ageism at play in both my work and in my personal life. It can be seen in the well meaning young aide who approaches an older client in a high-pitched voice saying, “Hi honey. Can I help you with that?” and in the commercials that encourage viewers to ‘get rid of those wrinkles and gray hair’. There is this sense that aging is something to be dreaded and postponed at all costs, or when it does occur, it is to be treated as an ailment or something to be pitied.
Well, guess who must push back on this notion – everyone! Ageism is the one ‘ism’ that every human being will experience. Tracey Gendron PhD states in her book Ageism Unmasked, “Ageism is incredibly complicated. Although it has commonalities with many other forms of discrimination, it is unique in many ways, including that it is something everyone will encounter and is essentially the manifestation of our prejudice toward our future selves.”
We all need to become aware of what we say and do to perpetuate the notion of aging as a negative. Listen to the words you use about yourself and others. Pay attention to how scare tactics are used in advertising to try to convince you that you need their product to avoid aging. When you find yourself using derogatory words toward the concept of aging, step back and ask yourself the impact those words have on yourself and others. Be kind to your aging self and never forget that age comes with wisdom, experience, and contributions.
Follow the Inspired Senior Care Instagram channel during May to build awareness of the impact our language has in the field of senior living. You can make a difference! InspiredSeniorCare Instagram
If your senior living community would like tools to lead these key concepts in your community, reach out to Inspired Senior Care to schedule a time to learn more about our program.