Guest post provided by Amy Trenton. Amy works as a marketing assistant and writer for RescueAlert.com – specializing in medical alarms and medical alert bracelets.
Having respect for our elders is one of the oldest and most universal societal manners recorded. Throughout history, we have seen many examples of the wise elderly leading people to redemption or mentoring great leaders. However, in today’s modern world, we are also seeing a trend of ageism, which can become detrimental to society, especially as studies have predicted that over 58 million people across the planet will turn 60 years old in 2013. Predictions also suggest that by the year 2050, there will be a considerable amount of elderly adults living on earth, outnumbering the amount of children under the age of 15 for the first time in world history. The rising numbers of older adults and ever increasing ageism demand a change in the way we treat and establish proper elder care.
The Rise in Ageism
In a survey conducted by Duke University, reports found that 84% of the age 60 and older survey participants had experienced a form of ageism in one way or another. 58% of respondents reported experiencing prejudice through being the butt of a ageist joke, while 31% told the Duke team that they experienced ageism in the form of being ignored or not treated legitimately due to their older age.
As ageism continues to rise, we are also seeing surprising results in the impact of these stereotypes beyond hurt and humiliation. A study performed by Yale University reported that humans over the age of 50 who had been treated positively and had an upbeat outlook towards aging had improved mental health, better physical balance, and lived an average of nearly 8 years longer than those who viewed aging in a negative way. Because of ageist jokes, disregard, and disrespect towards the elderly, we may indeed be impacting the elderly in a negative way, hurting their overall health and life spans as well as affecting their care.
Gaining Respect is the First Step
Having a deep respect for the elderly is the most important prerequisite for proper elder care. Whether as a neighbor to an elderly adult, a caregiver to an aging parent, or a worker in a elder care facility, it is vital in the health care of the increasing amount of older adults that respect is given. If there are problems with perceived ageism among people, there are a few ways to learn a new respect for those who have shaped the lives we have today.
1. Stop Assuming
One of the key characteristics of ageism is an assumption that because an individual is elderly, they are no longer valid in society, that they need constant assistance, or that they are boring. By broadening a view point and not assuming, one can see all that the elderly adults in our society can offer.
2. Take Notice and Be Considerate
Take notice of all the active aging adults that are in society and be considerate of their space, feelings, and roles within a community.
3. Use Good Manners and Polite Language
Opening doors, using the titles of “Sir” or “Madame” and using polite language are basic skills necessary for all human interaction, but with elder adults, it can go a long way in defeating ageism and creating opportunities for elderly acquaintances.
4. Strike Up a Conversation
Establishing common ground with an aging adult is a quick way to see that they are not so different, regardless of age.
5. Step Outside Your Own Generation
Volunteering at community events for senior adults can help those with a tendency for ageism gain a respect for those outside of their own generation.
6. Look Towards the Future
We will all become elderly at some point. It is inevitable. If someone is experiencing a lean towards ageism, it may be time to look towards the future of how they would like to be treated when they become considered an elderly adult.
Proper Elder Care
The world is seeing a rise in senior adults living on the planet, and reports indicate that throughout the world, over 46% of those over the age of 60 have a disability that results in the need for elder care. That equates currently to more than 250 million older adults having a moderate to extreme disability that limits them during their golden years. These disabilities come in a variety of forms with most older adults affected by hearing loss (nearly 44 million seniors globally,) visual impairment (94.2 million elders) and osteoarthritis, which affects 19.4 million aging adults across the planet.
These disabilities require our elders have proper health care and through battling against ageism and ensuring the care and respect required for healthy senior adults is provided, we can see happier elderly adults. Having respect for our elders is one of the oldest and most universal societal manners recorded, and the rising numbers of older adults and ever increasing ageism demand a change in the way we treat the senior citizens within our society and establish proper elder care.
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