7 Ways to Eliminate Stereotypes About Aging

Jan 19, 2018 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

George H. Schofield, Ph.D., is one of Next Avenue’s “2017 Influencers in Aging.” When asked, “If you could change one thing about aging in America, what would it be?” he answered, “Eliminate stereotypes.”

Consider the following real-life examples:

  • Demond, 66, looked at his mother and said, “Why can’t you act your age?” His mother Polly, 88, had started taking hula dancing lessons.
  • The young medical receptionist looked at Sue, 72, and said, “Just take a seat, honey. Standing can be hard work.”
  • The dermatologist, 43, looked the patient, 66, in the eye and said, “I’m reluctant to give you this prescription because it’s my consistent observation that people over 65 can only manage and track a small number of daily medications.”

It may be time to examine how you act towards your retired or nearly-retired clients. Chances are, you have fallen into believing one or more of society's ingrained stereotypes about “seniors.” That's what stereotypes are, a habitual way of thinking, individually and collectively.

So how can you eliminate them? Here are 7 ways to rethink your attitude toward aging:

  1. Stop buying any products or services marketed by companies that are reinforcing stereotypes.
  2. Avoid spending time with people who apply stereotypes as an ingrained way of life.
  3. Stop subscribing to, or viewing, any media that originates or perpetuates stereotypes.
  4. Listen carefully to what you say and think, keeping a journal of self-observations.
  5. Ask others to listen to you and be the reality check for your use of stereotypes.
  6. Take a hard look at the communities of which you are a member. Are they affinity groups with little or no diversity of thought or humanness? If the answer is yes, replace any you can.
  7. Make friends with, and spend time with, people who are the targets of your stereotypes.

Read the full article at Next Avenue.


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