© Imelda Maurer, cdp September 17, 2018
This blog title is that of an article in The Guardian recently. I certainly cannot improve on the concepts or the writing, so I include just a few paragraphs from an informative and thought-provoking piece. The entire article can be accessed here.
"We love the elders in our lives and we all hope to grow old, so why does this personal interest not translate into public policy?" (My own editorializing here --- it could read, 'why does our love for our elders so rarely translate into environments, policies, procedures, programs and practices that make this love and respect visible and self-evident to our elders as well as to any observers or visitors to these communities?')
"You see them in most aged-care facilities, seated on pastel-colored lounges, being babysat by a TV they are mostly not watching. Some are asleep, some are sedated, some are cognitively impaired. Seeing them like this, it’s hard to remember they were once young, vital and independent. What’s harder is thinking that it might one day be you."
"So why have we failed to do better by our elderly needing care? Why do we settle for conditions that leave many of them bored, lonely and poorly fed in a way we would never tolerate for ourselves?"
"One underlying cause could be deeply entrenched ageism. It often begins with the language we use. According to writer Ashton Applewhite, if we diminish our regard for the senior members of our society verbally, we are likely to do the same when it comes to the way we frame policy – removing their dignity and sense of agency in condescending generalizations that assume vulnerability and dependence instead of resilience and independence."
"Unlike other prejudices such as racism and sexism, which are manifestations of fear of the other, ageism is unique in targeting our future selves."
“No prejudice is rational,” says Applewhite. “But with ageism, we have internalised it. We have been complicit in our own marginalisation and it will require active consciousness-raising to correct that, just as the women’s movement did."
Are we ready to engage in active consciousness-raising around issues of ageism? For my readers who are women religious, there is an urgent call here for us to engage on this issue for the social justice issue that it is!