How ageism harms individuals, society and the economy – Pasadena Star News

This week we revisit the topic of ageism, prejudice against people because of their age, the most widespread and socially accepted form of prejudice.

Ageism is subtle; A recent example shows the point. On September 20, 2022, The New York Times reported on a health panel which recommended anxiety screening for all adults under the age of 65. This is very good news. The following is part of the Health Panel’s report.

“The task force panel has not expanded its screening recommendations to include patients 65 and older. There was no clear evidence of the effectiveness of screening tools in older adults because anxiety symptoms resemble normal signs of aging, such as fatigue and generalized aches and pains.”

Fear comes first not part of normal aging. And where is the evidence that fatigue and general aches and pains are part of normal aging? Such a statement reinforces stereotypical thinking, which can subtly reinforce negative stereotypes and, in turn, influence decisions made by family members, the medical community, and older adults themselves.

To take it a step further, if older adults are constantly tired, should they just attribute it to aging? Maybe they have a sleep disorder. And if they’re in constant pain, should they ignore it because it’s part of getting older? It can be caused by arthritis, lack of exercise, or an injury. Additionally, ignoring symptoms and assuming that this is part of normal aging can preclude ways to fix the problem.

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The report presents important advances in routine anxiety detection and recognizes the currently limited mental health resources. It’s just this subtle detail about “aging” that can reinforce negative thinking.

There are many efforts to counteract age bias. An example is Ageism Awareness Day, celebrated on October 7, 2022. It was created by EveryAGE Counts, a lobbying campaign in Australia that aims to do this Combating age discrimination against older Australians. We in the US adopted it.

The American Society on Aging, a large professional membership organization, has created an Ageism and Culture Council that is emphasizing Ageism Awareness Day as an opportunity to make a difference.