Editor, The Record:
To combat ageism and resulting abuse, we all need to challenge the myths, especially the erroneous notions that seniors’ lives are less valuable, don’t deserve respect, they do not feel emotional pain, or are largely responsible for growing health care costs.
Informed seniors can prevent negative stereotypes of aging and combat perceptions by younger generations viewing seniors as different. We need to create positive stereotypes of aging, in that older people are wise, caring and involved.
Ageism often surfaces in discriminatory practices and services of all kinds, often where greater social value is given to people without impairments. Often seniors are perceived as having outlived their usefulness, and lifelong contributions are overlooked.
Ageism manifests in how visible seniors are in society and some seek to marginalize and make them feel unwelcome.
Seniors may witness authorities not believing them, discounting them out of hand, not considering harm as serious or that seniors have unreliable memories. Rationalizing financial abuse or that older adults have less right to their money or property than younger family members perpetuates the negative attitude towards older people.
Ageism thrives out of ignorance, thus education and challenging someone disparaging a senior, correcting inaccuracy and to let them know comments are hurtful or offensive. As senior advocates we must create bridges to connect the life spans of all age groups.
The District of Mission and notably municipal councils of the past, epitomize the governance and approaches that have been remiss to address seniors’ needs, including establishing a seniors’ activity centre.
The Elder Citizen Action Coalition (ECAC) shares these observations in the hope the issue may be recognized, that unacceptable behaviour be changed, and that seniors are given due respect and benefits to enhance their lives.
George F. Evens
The Elder Citizen Action