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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Patterns of Ageism

Until recently, in Canada, there has not been much research
documenting the extent of prejudice towards older persons. Robert
Butler (1969) first coined the term ageism and defined it as “..another
form of bigotry” and “a process of systematic stereotyping and
discrimination against people who are old.”
Ageism is different from the other types of “ism” such as sexism
and racism because, unlike them, ageism, in general may affect
everyone or at least everyone who lives long enough” says Erdmann
Palmore who indicates although there are positive and negative
forms of ageism, in general is has negative consequences to seniors.
Some demographic factors are: Level of education, Ethnicity,
Employment and/or Type of Pension, Distance of closest relative,
neighbor, Marital status, Organizational Membership, Level of
volunteering, Attitudes toward Local and Provincial Governments
Below are three figures indicating Ageism Relationships

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

 Attitudes Toward Old People Scale[i]

         Many visitors to this blog site are very interested in ageism. The following scale for assessing attitudes toward old people was published in 1961; fifty years ago, The research article discusses relationships found between such attitudes and personality variables. Three samples of college undergraduates served as subjects… a scale containing items making unfavorable reference to old people and a scale containing matched favorably worded items was constructed. Only the sentences are included here but the original article includes a scoring procedure
         Unfavorable attitudes toward old people were associated with feelings of anomie, and with negative dispositions toward ethnic minorities as well as a variety of physically disabled groups. A (From Psyc Abstracts 36:01:3GD44K.)

The Scale
1.   The elderly have the same faults as anybody else
2.   The elderlys’ accounts of their past experiences are interesting
3.   Most elderly keep a clean home
4.   Most elderly seem to be quite clean in their personal appearance.
5.   Most elderly would work as long as possible rather than be            dependent.
6.   People grow wiser with the coming of old age.
7.   Most elderly are very different from one another.
8.   Most elderly are cheerful, agreeable and good humored.
9.   Most elderly respect the privacy of others
10. Most elderly are very relaxing to be with.
11. A nice residential neighborhood has a number of elderly living in it.
12. Most elderly are as easy to understand as young people.
13. Most elderly can adjust when the situation demands it.
14. The elderly have too little power in business and politics.
15. Most elderly need no more love and reassurance than anybody else.
16. It would be better if most elderly lived in residential units that also                 housed younger people.
17. The elderly seldom complain about the behavior of younger people.
18. It is foolish to claim that wisdom comes with old age,
19. Most elderly bore others by talking about the good old days.
20. Most elderly send to much time prying into the affairs of others.
21. Most elderly let their homes become shabby and unattractive
22. If the elderly expect to be liked, the should eliminate their irritating       faults.

[i] Attitudes toward old people: The development of a scale and an examination of   correlates. Kogan, N. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, Vol 62(1),
            Jan 1961, 44-54. doi: 10.1037/h0048053

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Racism, Sexism Unacceptable, But Ageism Continues To Thrive[i]

         Getting old is an insidious process. You hardly notice it creeping up on you.  But others do. And they’re only too glad to remind you of the fact, sometimes in a joking well-intentioned fashion…often not.  Our society has managed, for the most part, to banish racism and sexism, or at least make it politically unacceptable.  Look no further than the outrage over a former NDP MLA’s sexist comments about Premier Christy Clark.
         But ageism continues to thrive. It often seems to be the last acceptable form of bigotry in politically correct countries like Canada. Younger people are allowed to dismiss what older folks say because of a knee-jerk hostility—and disinterest—towards them. Being old, in their narrow view, is one of the worst crimes you can commit.  Which is especially true if you are poor, elderly women or otherwise disadvantaged.  It is little wonder that this leads to elder abuse, the acting out of a powerful underlying prejudice in an urban, youth-oriented world where too often seniors are viewed as sub-human.
Mostly, though, its not so much a use that's in play in B.C. just plain thoughtlessness.
         An E- street member B. Smith, of Vancouver, tells how in 2007 her dying mother a longtime victim of domestic violence, was put in a ward with men in the hospital “She was very upset, and we her children were frantic,” she said. She and other family members advised the nursing staff that, because of her mom’s history she should only be in a room with other women. And she was moved to another room. But male patients were later moved back into that room---which made her mom’s death from cancer at age of 77 even more unbearable.
         ”Women should not have to die in fearful conditions.” The 59-year-old Smith noted. “It’s morally wrong, utterly reprehensible and totally preventable.”  Smith, a former Alberta hospital admitting supervisor, told me Monday that the policy of mixing men and women in BC hospital wards continues to this day: “They don’t care for the dignity of patients.”
         Medical researcher Donna Young said age discrimination really kicks when people turn 90, and patient care often turns from bad to worse.  “You’re not treated as a human being anymore,” she said in an interview. “You’re worthless. You don’t contribute to the tax base.”
 Young, 69 years old, noted that her mom died this June in a Kamloops hospital, aged 97, after three years of pain and suffering.
         My view is that it’s all about attitudes.  Age discrimination is not simply a problem in health institutions; it’s endemic in our society.  The movie and TV industries tend to ignore old people or treat them as the butt of bad jokes.  Ageism is also rife on the Internet, where it generally flies by unchallenged.
         What gets ignored is the voice of experience and sense of perspective that comes with old age.  And given the current social and economic turmoil in the world, we need that wisdom more than ever.  Indeed we need to celebrate it,
Thanks Jon!!!!!!!!

[i] Printed with permission of Jon Ferry The Province Oct 19th 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Retirement Readiness Questionaire

Take some time to think about the following questions and what your answers tell you about your thoughts on retirement.  The less the number of thoughts, the less you may be prepared.

1.  Why are you thinking about retirement now? (You get one point if you think that someone who knows you well considers your answer Good and Clear)

2. Do you want to retire?  (One point if yes)

3. Have you attended a retirement preparation program or seminar focused on financial planning?  (One point if yes)

4. Have you attended a retirement preparation program or seminar focused on social planning? (E.g. community activities and interpersonal endeavors)? (One point if yes)

5.  How would your finances be if you retired now? (One point if good or better)

6. Have you developed any outside interests, hobbies, volunteer activities or areas of new learning? (One point if yes)

7. Have you planned new activities where you would interact with people on a regular basis, offering opportunities for new friendships?
(One point if yes)

8. What do your family and friends say about you retiring?
(One point if they think you are doing the right thing)

9. Have you considered whether you want a complete or partial retirement? In other words, have you considered part-time or temporary work, or even a less than full-time small business venture? Emphases here are on consideration.  (One point if Yes, even if you choose not to go this route)

 10. During retirement, will the process of making at least a modest contribution helping out in various volunteer or other activities be sufficient for you, or do you feel you need to make an immediate major difference in what you do? (One point if yes to the first part of the question or to the second part if you feel you have lined up an activity where you can make an immediate major contribution)

11. What is important and fulfilling for you? How do your retirement plans relate to your thinking here? (One point it someone who is reliable and knows you, feels you give a straight answer and considers your answer Good and Clear)

12. What is it that gives you a sense of meaning and purpose in life? How do your retirement plans relate to your thinking here? (One point it someone who is reliable and knows you, feels you give a straight answer and considers your answer Good and Clear)

Scoring--What is your Retirement Readiness Quotient?

·      12      points:  You’re in position for a great retirement
·      10-11 points:  Your retirement will likely be highly satisfying
·        8- 9  points:  Your retirement could have some problems that                                     are likely fixable.
·        6-7   points: You could be challenged by ambivalent feelings                                  about retirement, requiring a solid effort to bring your situation up a notch                    
·        3-5 points You are potentially in a trouble zone with your                                  retirement now working well, short of a major effort to get it back on track.
·         0-2 points You are in jeopardy of having an unfulfilling                                  retirement, requiring an all out effort to have things work out to your liking

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting Past Ageism

[i]Those who have been following my blog entries know that my most definite interest is Ageism.  Some while ago I came upon the following material.  The persons creating this material have given us permission to use it in ways that can benefit society. So here it is.

1. Identify the myths and mis-information.

Recognize the myths about aging and negative attitudes about older adults. Start challenging the myths. There are many erroneous beliefs in our society - e.g. that older adults' lives are less valuable and older adults are less deserving of having their rights respected; that older
adults feel emotional pain less or do not have sexual feelings; or that older adults are largely responsible for growing health care or other social costs.

  2. Go beyond the stereotypes of aging.

Recognize that a label like "elderly" or "seniors" tells us little about what to expect from the person. These labels do not tell us whether the person is kind or uncaring, healthy or her health is diminishing, mentally capable or mentally incapable, a reliable or an unreliable worker or volunteer. Labels do not tell us about the person's capacity for friendship or creativity or accomplishment. Address ageism by highlighting older adults' individual, collective, and lifelong contributions to our society.

 3. Learn more about aging.

The better informed we are about aging and what to expect, the better we are able to evaluate and resist many of the inaccurate and negative stereotypes of aging.

  4. Learn more about ageism and discrimination.

It is very common for older adults to face discrimination in housing, health, and other key  services. They may be treated as burdens on services, excluded from or simply refused admission to services.  Learn to recognize when "neutral policies" are not "neutral" in

their effect on seniors. Also recognize how ageism intersects with other "isms" such as sexism or racism.

5. Listen to seniors who have experienced ageism.
They are in the best position to tell us how ageism affects their lives.

.6. Monitor media and respond to ageist material.

Changing the typically negative ways in which older adults are portrayed in news programs, commercials, films and television shows that reach millions of people on a daily basis is necessary if ageism is to be reduced. Write a letter to or e-mail the editor, TV sponsor or movie producer.

  7. Speak up about ageism.

When someone you know uses ageist language or images, tactfully let them know about the inaccuracy. Educate them about the correct meaning.  When someone disparages a senior, tells a joke that ridicules them, or makes disrespectful comments about an older person, we can let them know that this is hurtful and that as seniors or advocates we find the comments offensive and harmful.

  8. Watch our language.

Most of us, including health professionals, health advocates and consumers use terms and expressions that may perpetuate ageism. We depersonalize older adults by referring to them generically as "the elderly" or "our seniors".

  9. Talk openly about aging issues and ageism.

The more ageism and age discrimination remain hidden, the more people believe it is acceptable to act this way. Show and recognize the heterogeneity of seniors. Older adults are not all the same. Let
others see real older people - people who are resourceful, articulate and creative, who

are familiar as valued friends or coworkers. Also include older adults who have conditions that may limit their abilities in some ways; they are not limited in other ways. People who do not fit the stereotype are a powerful way to fight ageism.

  10. Build intergenerational bridges to promote better understanding.

Ageism often builds in the context of ignorance. The more generations realize they are connected to each other throughout the lifespan and affect each others' wellbeing, the greater the opportunities for reducing negative attitudes against young and old, alike.

  11. Provide support for organizations that address ageism.

There are a number of organizations that advocate for better treatment and greater acceptance of older adults. Their influence and effectiveness depends, to some extent, on their membership size and the adequacy of their finances. Join. Be involved. Be part of a positive solution.

12. Push for changes from your elected representative.

Policies that perpetuate ageism can be changed if enough people let the appropriate politicians know that they want this change. Keep informed on key aging issues and policies. Know the names of government officials to contact


Saturday, October 8, 2011


     Research indicates that in comparison to middle aged adults, young adults exhibit higher levels of ageist attitudes towards older persons and that elder abuse is increasing. This study examined proclivity of elder abuse by young adults enrolled at the post-secondary level.  A total of 206 university students completed questionnaires on attitudes toward older persons and their proclivity to elder abuse. Results indicated that student attitudes are correlated with elder abuse. In addition, proclivity to psychological abuse was found to be significantly higher than physical abuse.
         A convenience sample from a research pool was used.   Participation was voluntary and respondents received course credits.  Informed consent was obtained from participants.  Young adults were defined as 18 to 30 and older persons as 65 years and older. A total of 206 (64 males and 142 females) respondents participated in the study. Most participants attained at least some university level of education. The majority of respondents (66.5%) came from areas with a sizable proportion of older persons living in their communities.
. The results supported the hypothesis that ageism based on stereotypes is more common than avoidance or affective aspect of ageist attitudes. They also indicated that the overall proclivity rate towards elder abuse is 32.1% whereby respondents indicated that they would engage in psychologically abusive behaviours toward an older person provided that there were no consequences to their actions.
The most frequent types of psychological abuse came from minor subscales where a majority of respondents reported that they would stomp out of a room during a disagreement with older people. Under the same condition, only 2.4% of respondents reported that they would endorse physically abusive behaviours towards older persons such as slapping and pushing them.
Psychological abuse has consistently emerged as the most prevalent form of elder abuse in both proclivity and the prevalence estimates. Such findings may be due to the relative lack of sanctions placed on minor psychological aggression (i.e. verbal) compared to other forms of abuse. Although psychological abuse does not cause any visible harm or injury, abuse such as verbal insults, patronizing speech and threats can damage self-esteem resulting in more damaging impacts than physical abuse.
          The present findings on proclivity rates and previous research on prevalence rates to elder abuse indicate the increasing vulnerability of older adults to abusive behaviours.  Also found were specific relationships between the attitudes of young adults enrolled in a post-secondary institution and the likelihood of endorsing abusive behaviours towards older persons.
      Today, the younger generation needs to prepare for the gap between the generations and learn to deal with a multitude of aging issues as they grow older and take on responsibility for the caring of older members of society. Therefore the information obtained from this study has significant research, practical, and policy implications. Resources should be allocated to existing services in order to raise awareness of the increasing vulnerability of our aging population and to encourage intergenerational dialogue among older and younger adults. 

[1] Yongjie Yon BAA, MA, Larry Anderson B.Sc., MSc., Ph.D, Jocelyn Lymburner Ph.D, John Marasigan BA, M.Ed, MBA, PhD , Robert Savage, BGS, MA (c), Michael Campo BSc, MA , Rose McCloskey RN, PhD, GNC(c), Sue Ann Mandville-Anstey BN., MN., PhD (c)  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Marital Satisfactions Among Seniors

       In some previous blog entries I have touched on the topic of marital satisfaction and retirement.  During this past summer my wife and I have spent a lot of time together. Along with my anticipation of formal retirement, which happened on August 31st, she has been coping with a gradually healing broken ankle and a hernia that refuses to stay in the right place. On the other hand, I have been struggling with sleep apnea. Her bone is about healed and I have recently purchased a tool that helps me breath at night.  In both cases, we have experienced increased stress and occasionally we have harsh words with each other.      Please don’t get the wrong idea, Sometimes we get irritated with each other. We are after all human beings or Homo sapiens depending on how technical you want to get. Still, all and all, we have a good relationship and love each other dearly.
      The material mentioned below includes a marital satisfaction questionnaire.  Read what the authors have said and then take a look at the questions.  It may help you and your partner to sort things out or to recognize just how well your partnership is getting along.
       “Although poor health for one or both partners is potentially an important stressor in the lives of older persons
the spouses appear to distinguish satisfaction with their partner's health from their evaluations of the marital relationship per se.”
      “The current findings substantiate the importance of marital satisfaction in the lives of older persons. Marital Satisfaction Scale items were highly correlated with overall life satisfaction, and they predicted the occurrence of the positive or negative behaviors in the home and during marital problem solving discussions. We hope that the availability of this assessment instrument will help to stimulate greater attention to evaluating older persons' marital satisfaction through research and interventions. “
[1] Psychological Assessment © 1992 by the American Psychological Association
        December 1992 Vol. 4, No. 4, 473-482.  The Marital Satisfaction Questionnaire For Older Persons.  Aulthors:  S. N. Haynes, F. J. Floyd, Carolyn Lemsky,  Elizabeth Rogers, David Winemiller, Nancy Heilman, Mary Werle, Tria Murphy,  & Lydia, Cardone (1992) Marital Satisfaction Questionnaire

            Marital Satisfaction Questionnaire for Older Persons

      Please answer the following questions as carefully as possible. You may choose not to answer specific questions, but you are encouraged to answer as many as possible. Please indicate your current level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction for each of the items listed below.
1 = very dissatisfied,   2= dissatisfied    3= somewhat dissatisfied  
4 = somewhat satisfied   5= satisfied    6 = Very dissatisfied

1.  The amount of time my spouse and I spend in shared recreational activities:
             1              2              3             4             5             6

2.   The degree to which my spouse and I share common interests:

   1              2              3             4             5             6

3.  The day-to-day support and encouragement provided by my spouse:

1              2              3             4             5             6

4. My spouse's physical health:

1              2              3             4             5             6

5. The degree to which my spouse motivates me:

1              2              3             4             5             6

6.  My spouse's overall personality:

1              2              3             4             5             6

7.  The amount of consideration shown by my spouse:

1              2              3             4             5             6

8.  The manner in which affection is expressed between my spouse     and me:
1              2              3             4             5             6

9.  How my spouse reacts when I share feelings:

1              2              3             4             5             6

10.  The way disagreements are settled:

1              2              3             4             5             6

11.  The number of disagreements between my spouse and me:

1              2              3             4             5             6

12. .  My spouse's philosophy of life:

1          2          3         4          5                6

13.  My spouse's values:

1              2              3             4             5             6

14.  My spouse's emotional health:

1              2              3             4             5             6

15.  The frequency of sexual or other physically intimate relations        with my spouse:

1              2              3             4             5             6

16.  The quality of sexual or other physically intimate relations with          my spouse:

1              2              3             4             5             6

17.  The frequency with which my spouse and I have pleasant           conversations:

1              2              3             4             5             6

[i] Psychological Assessment © 1992 by the American Psychological Association
            December 1992 Vol. 4, No. 4, 473-482.  The Marital Satisfaction Questionnaire For Older    Persons.  Aulthors:  S. N. Haynes, F. J. Floyd, Carolyn Lemsky, Elizabeth Rogers, David Winemiller, Nancy Heilman, Mary Werle, Tria Murphy, & Lydia, Cardone (1992) Marital Satistisfaction  Questionaire