Our daily interactions are full of casual jokes, clichés, and compliments that are blatantly ageist but culturally acceptable.
“Casual ageism” is rampant and not as harmless as it seems. Katy Read, writing in the Star Tribune, takes a comprehensive look at those everyday ageist things we unwittingly say and do – and offers advice from experts on what we can do about the problem.
Accompanying the article are 12 examples of everyday ageism that are so common — and in many cases, well-meaning — that you might not even think much about them, according to Sally Brown of the Vital Aging Network:
- Birthday parties featuring black balloons and crepe paper, cards that make fun of getting old, joke gifts about aging.
- "Anti-aging" products and services.
- Praising older people by comparing them to younger ones: "You look good for [your age]," "You're young at heart" or "Inside, I feel 30 years younger."
- "You're still… [dancing, driving, going to the gym, wearing a particular style]" or "You're too old to do those things."
- Describing minor forgetfulness as a "senior moment."
- Doctors, waiters and others directing comments about an older person at a younger companion or child of the older person.
- Health care and social-service providers who patronize older people, or who undertreat, overtreat or overmedicate them.
- Patronizing language (sweetie, dear, honey, he's so sweet, isn't she cute). Thinking older people doing things associated with younger people (mild cursing, having or referring to sex) is adorable or surprising.
- Name-calling: geezer, gramps, old fart, dirty old man, little old lady, old bag, biddy, old fogey.
- Lying about your age for fear of negative perceptions, or staying "39" year after year.
- Assuming that young people are computer geniuses and older people are technologically inept.
- Discussions of the "silver tsunami" that blame older people for economic and social challenges.