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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Causes Ageism

Certain types of personality are prejudice prone –Simpson and Yinger.  
The culture treats the old like a fag end of what was once good material – Max Lerner

         This material is word for word information from Erdman Palmore’s very interesting book.[i]  I highly recommend your purchase of it. It can be ordered online.
         There are three major causes of ageism: individual, social, and cultural. As the quotation above asserts, some personality types (such as the Authoritarian Personality) are prone to be prejudiced against old people, as well as other “minority groups.”  Also many individuals tend to suffer from “selective perception” in which they; perceive in which they perceive only those things that reinforce their prejudice. In this case, they recognize as old only the decrepit and senile people, while not perceiving the healthy, active elders as “old”.
         But probably the most important individual source of ageism is ignorance.  The average person is able to get correct only about half of the true-false items on Palmore’s “Facts of Aging Quiz.”  This means that they have about as many misconceptions about aging as correct information.
         Among the social causes of ageism, there is modernization theory (which assumes that with rapid modernization, old people get left behind as obsolete); increased competition (with increasing with increasing numbers of old people); self-fulfilling prophecies” (in which negative attitudes toward old people tend to result in actions which reinforce those attitudes.
         Among the cultural causes of ageism, there is the phenomenon of “blaming the victim” (in which old people are blamed for ageism against them); language (in which most of the meanings and connotations of words for “old” are negative); humor and songs s
(most of which reflect and reinforce negative attitudes to old people); and media (most of which also reinforce negative images.)
         In summary, the sources of ageism are so varied and so insidious that most people are hardly aware of it.

[i]  Older  Can Be Bolder: 101 Answers to your questions about Aging. ISBN             9781466249271

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Memory Aids That Really Work

The following Memory Aids were found in Palmore’s Older Can Be Bolder.[i]  He asks the question: Are there memory aids that really work?  Here is what he says:
·      Write it down. The act of writing itself helps to process memory as well as serving as a reminder if it is written on your calendar or posted in a prominent place.
·      Create a visual image. This helps process the memory into another area of the memory banks
·      Associate it with something you already know; connect the memory with another one, such as another similar name or word or image.
·      Memorize small chunks at a time.  Think of a phone number as three chunks (area code, the exchange, and the individual number), not one long number
·      Be consistent about where you put things. Designate one or two places that you put down your glasses or key or wallet or hearing aid. Do not put your wallet away until you have put your credit card back in it.
·      Look for visual cues. To remember where you parked, look for specific landmarks, or write down the number of the space
·      Set a timer to remind you to take care of something, like turn of the burner or wake up from a nap.

         These are excellent suggestions but it takes a while and effort to make them a natural part of our activity.  My favorite phrase is “a place for everything and everything in it’s place,” It sounds simple but it takes a great deal of concentration to get it working.  I think a key factor for using this type of material. In younger days, memory items seemed to take place without much effort on my part.  And in my case I need to struggle to remember to remember. From now on I will carry a notebook and also make more notes in my online calendar.
         For the last two weeks our house has been chaotic, new flooring is being put in and there are boxes of clothes, tools, and whatever all over the place. So right now few things have a place. Maybe this can be a good lesson about aging in chaos.  I must sign off now and see if I can find my car keys!  Good luck to you.

[i]  Older Can be Bolder ISBN 9781466249271

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Retirement and Social Relationships

         The material for this blog entry was gathered from a book by doctor John Osborne[i].  It is an excellent book that I highly recommend for those interested in retirement including persons about to retire and those who have already retired.  It has 14 chapters ranging from Plans and Goals for Retirement to Personal Growth.
         The chapter on Social Relationships begins by discussing the connection between relationships in the workplace.  We may continue to have connections with persons who we worked with. For instance I have been able to keep my work email address and continue to follow discussion topics between those who are still at work.   When I drive by either of the two campuses I experience a funny tinkling feeling.  Even when I am driving alone my ego pops up and quietly says: “I used to work there.”
         Next Doctor Osborne mentions the importance of aging. First new retires may “…no longer feel obliged to attend social gatherings. Further, “ We may also find that we don’t go to the movies as often as we rent a video or DVD.  Personally, I have been able to continue my work on the board of the local seniors resource centre; reconnect with TALK—Third Age Learning at Kwantlen, develop an growing relation ship with Alexandra House an organization in Crescent Beach that develops community programs.
         The chapter continues with Dr. Osborn’s discussion of theories (for instance Social Emotional Selectivity Theory) For those of you who decide to get the book you will get an excellent opportunity to analyze your relationship status.
         Toward the end of the chapter he writes:  “ Retirees are usually entering the afternoon of their lives unless they retire at a very young age.  We may find that or appetite for making friends is not as acute as it was in our youth, We tend to prefer fewer select friendships that are comfortable.  We may also enjoy a considerable amount of solitude, even when it comes to recreation.  Our ability to cope with a certain amount of solitude may help us not become too dependent on others such as our intimate partner or spouse.”
         Stopping here, ask yourself, particularly if you are retired: What is the nature of my social relationships and have they changed since I left my work?   And, of course, you could let me know what you think.

[i]  Essential Retirement: Psychological Concerns, Possum Press Canada 
   ISBN 0-9738303-0-1

Friday, February 17, 2012

Combating Negative Age Stereotypes

Many of my posts are about ageism.  But few of them have much to say about what we can do to help create  more healthy communities through the reduction of ageist thinking.  A major component of ageism is the negative stereotypes that many people believe.  Below is some material that can help moderate ageist attitudes

1. The following positive slogans can be used to combat such negative stereotypes as:

             Age is a case of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.

             Age is important only for wines and cheese.

             Age is just a number.

             Aged for smoothness and taste.

             Aged to perfection.

             Aging is living.

             The best wines come in old bottles.

              Better over the hill than under it.

             Better 60 than pregnant.

              Being young at heart is better than being young.

             Elders have done it longer.

              Fifty is nifty.

             Gray power.

             Grow old with me, the best is yet to be.

             How dare you think I’d rather be younger?

 2. If aging improves quality,

I’m approaching perfection.

I’m not over the hill. I’m on a roll.

 I’m not a dirty old man;

 I’m a sexy senior citizen.

 It’s never too late to learn.

             It’s not how old you are, but how you are old.

             It’s no sin to be 70.

 Old age is better than its alternative.

             Old age is not for sissies.

             Old age is the consummation of life.

 Old wines and violins are the best.

             Older can be bolder.

 Over the hill and loving it.

 Over the hill and o the pill.

             People are like cars: their age is less important than how they’ve been

             Retired: no boss, no worries, no work.
             Retired: rejuvenated, retreated,  relaxed, and remodeled.

3. Senior power.

            Sixty and still sexy.

            The best thing about being a parent is you may get to be a grandparent.

            The first 50 years are just a rehearsal.

            The older the violin, the sweeter the music.

             There may be snow on the roof, but there’s fire in the hearth.

             Things of quality have no fear of time.

             When you’re over the hill, you pick up speed.

             You can teach an old dog new tricks.

             Youth is a gift of nature; age is a work of art.

4. Do You Know? Which is the best answer to the following questions?

            1. Most patients with Alzheimer’s Disease

            a. Act pretty much the same way.

            b. Have confusion and impaired memory.

            c. Wander during the day or at night.

                        d. Repeat the same question or action over and over.

            2. Organic brain impairment:

            a. Is easy to distinguish from functional mental illness.

            b. Is dicult to distinguish from functional mental illness.

            c. Tends to be similar to functional mental illness.

            d. Can be reversed with proper therapy.

            3. When talking to an older adult, it is best to

            a. Avoid looking directly at the patient.

            b. Glance at the patient occasionally.

            c. Ignore the patient’s reactions.

            d. Look directly at the patient.


1. b. The only thing that all patients with Alzheimer’s Disease have in
         common  is confusion and impaired memory.

2.b. The symptoms of organic brain impairment are dicult to distinguish
      from  those of functional mental illness such as aective or anxiety disorders.

3.d. When talking to an older patient, it is best of look directly at the patient,
both to establish eye contact and to see if the patient is paying attention to you.

*Adapted from The Facts on Aging Quiz, 2nd Ed. by Erdman Palmore, NY:
EDITORIAL : *Adapted from Palmore, Branch, & Harris (eds.), THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AGEISM. NY: Haworth, 2005. the Center Report 7 Winter 2012[1]
This material was first published  by The Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development and the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center present  the Center Report .  For more information go to:  ( )

Monday, February 6, 2012

More about Older Can Be Bolder

Chap 1    Appearance (how we look as we age) it covers such topics as:  a. men’s baldness, b. older women’s beards, c. why we get wrinkles d. bags under our eyes e. why do we shrink as we get older and f. why do we tend to get fatter (there is much more I am just giving you a taste),

Chap 2.  Physical Function  a. Do our bodies run out?  Including lung capacity, our five senses, our eyes watering, being less productive, why do we older men pee so often, and male menopause?, (just a taste)

Chap 3. Mental Health  a. what’s happening to our memory and what can we do about, does it really work?, b. information about Alzheimer’s, c. information about Parkinson’s disease, d. material about depression and what we can do about it? e. material about accidents at home and on the job f. as we age are we; wiser, more religious, more likely to volunteer, now much sleep do we need.

Chap 4. Longevity [Note my mom was 96 years old on Feb 8th]
a.          when are we old? b. is life expectancy increasing? c. the secret of longevity, d. Is there a kind of food that helps increase longevity? e. Why do women live longer than men ?

Chap 5. Ageism  a. what is it ?  b. what are its most frequent forms ? c. is it as bad as the other isms? d. is it declining ? e. What about jokes and birthday cards?  f. what causes it and what are if effects?  g.  do doctors discriminate against old people?  h. how can we reduce ageism? 

Chap 6. Benefits a. are older people bankrupting the government ?  b. are we pushing the cost of medical care? c. should health care be rationed by age?  d. do most old people wind up in institutions? e. are most caregivers young people? f. when are old people entitled to Social Security, Supplemental Security and Medicare   f. when can people join the AARP, g. How many benefits are there to aging?

[It’s a good deal and I have learned a great deal. I hope Erdman carries on, for seniors it becomes new dawn. For more information google  oldercanbebolder]     

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ageism In BC Step 2 Larry and Yongjie

In step 1 I published Dr. Erdman Palmore’s Ageism Survey and I have waited some time before discussing the results found in our British Columbia study. Hopefully you examined the survey to see if the statements have meaning in your life. Now I am using my blogspot to take another step toward reduction of ageism. Combined responses to Palmore’s Survey were rank ordered and patterns of correlations examined.   One major pattern involving six items appears to reflect attacks on relational self-esteem. Lesser correlations were found involving employment, humour, and victimization.  
This study is a step toward understanding the prevalence of ageist experiences in Canada. I  hope that looking at the major results (step 2) will help increase the opportunities to discuss and reduce ageism within Canada.  
Ageism and Humour
         Cynthia Rich, one of the founders of The Old Women’s Project, in her interview with Lipscomb (2006) commented that “We can do a scholarly analysis of birthday cards—the cards that inform me as an old woman just how disgusting and hideous I am. Then I’m chastised that I don’t have a sense of humour when I object to the same comments we hear used in sexist and racist jokes.”  Ellis and Todd (2005) investigated the use of ageist birthday cards in Canada.  They found that over seventy percent of the cards sent to persons between 70 and 100 years old had negative themes, indicating there is nothing to look forward to in "old age.".
         Ageist humour is often exchanged between friends. “Kidding is a precision instrument for assessing the kind of relationship one has with a person.” (Pinker, p. 554)    Joking may be an outlet for older persons who have internalized the ageist cultural values about themselves and are releasing anxiety in a relatively safe environment.  Ellis and Morrison (2005) suggest that joking about age among peers may be acceptable but is inappropriate when directed toward someone older than one’s self.
          More personal comments were written in the margins of our survey about these two items than any of the others.  One example is “What’s wrong with this? If I lost my sense of humour, I’d be in real trouble.”  Another was “ When I hear I'm starting to joke about age, I put a stop to it right away!”
Crime and Victimization
         While both of these two items were only reported by a small number of respondents, criminal actions against older persons cannot be taken lightly.  Shields, King, Fulks  & Fallon (2002) surveyed older residents in rural Ohio about experiences of criminal victimization.  Respondents reported infrequent  incidences and attributed this to informal support networks.
         Attempts have been made to distinguish between elder abuse and other crimes.  The media is much less likely to focus on other things than elder abuse.  Leedahl & Ferraro (2007) suggest that, in light of the rapidly aging population, unless government takes policy action, this problem could become a major crisis.  Podnieks (2006) argues that increased social inclusion provides an excellent opportunity to bring the issue of elder abuse to the forefront.
Attacks on Self-Esteem
         There's a connection between attacks on self-esteem, being treated with less dignity and respect, being patronized, not being taken seriously and having someone assume that lack of understanding because age seems obvious.   Mark Leary (1999) asserts that the “…self-esteem motive functions not to maintain self-esteem per se but rather to avoid social devaluation and rejection.”(p.32)   Danu, Holmes, & Wood (2007) argue that the connection between one’s self-concept and self-esteem is moderated by the level of a person’s acceptance from others.  It appears that ageist comments directed toward older people forces them toward inclusion in a stereotyped devalued out-group. 
Employment and Age Discrimination
         Much of the existing research on this subject has been conducted in the United Kingdom.  For instance, Duncan and Loretto (2004) found that limitations on promotion were the most common theme reported by respondents of the age of 40+.  Decreased  opportunities for training were also frequently reported.  In spite of changes in age employment policy in the UK, McVittie, McKinlay, and Widdicombe (2003) report that, “Evidence suggests…that equal opportunities have not improved prospects for older workers.” (p.595)   Further, they warn that employers are using “language of equal opportunities” (p.609) to construct a “new ageism”, manipulating language to justify not hiring and discrimination against older workers.
Note: Number of Respondents = 815

Older Can Be Bolder

   I highly recommend Erdman Palmore’s new book Older Can Be Bolder: 101 answers to your questions about aging.  It is full of ideas and facts that many people looking for information about aging will be VERY interested in reading. Dr. Palmor is a Professor Emeritus of Medical Sociology at Duke University Center for the Study of Aging. 
 The chapter titles are:  Chapter 1 APPEARANCE, Chapter 2 PHYSICAL FUNCTION, Chapter 3 MENTAL HEALTH, Chapter 4 LONGEVITY, Chapter 5 AGEISM and Chapter 6 BENEFITS.   
   Here is the Preface:  Some people grow timid as they age because they are afraid of aging.  They haven’t heard the good news about aging: you can grow bolder as you grow older. Many people are afraid to ask questions answered in this book because they think only about the problems of aging and not the benefits of aging. The answers in this book recognize the problems, but also the many advantages of aging
    This is a soft cover book that costs under $10 Canadian. I purchased the book through  After you read the book I would be interested in reading what you think.  Note: The online book is less than $3.00

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Adapting to Retirement and Self-Image Management

    Over the last five months, after ending 40 years as a university professor I have been slowly adjusting to my life in retirement.  Since September I have been working on a number of activities including expanding my blog entries, volunteering, and marketing my retirement workshop.
         On a number of times I have still “visited” both the Langely and Surrey campuses, mostly having to do with my wife’s activity as a student in the Fine Arts dept.  She will be graduating this spring as the first Fine Arts undergraduate student.
         Especially as we drive toward the Surrey campus I feel warm and tingly inside as we pass by buildings and roadways that I have driven by hundreds if not thousands of times before.  To explore these feelings I “naturally” did what I have also done frequently; I investigated to find out what research has been done about this experience. I found an article by Ursina Teuscher about identity diversity.  It has helped widen my understanding of retirement [i]
         Her research investigated 792 Swiss persons.  Men and women as well as retirees and non-retirees were about equally represented.
         She found that the “…professional domain remains important for self description even after retirement.”  Surprisingly, “The loss of the professional role after retirement apparently did not lead to loss of professional identity.”   “The best predictors of the importance of retirement status for self definition were a positive attitude toward aging and long job duration.”
How might we explain these findings?  “ is therefore plausible that identity diversity may have acted as a buffer…which would explain the correlation with high identity diversity and life satisfaction, but also the moderating effect of job deprivation….   “Thus, higher diversity is more likely to be beneficial than costly in narrative identity and “…the fact that professional identity is maintained after retirement should not be viewed as lacking adaptation to the new circumstances of retirement, but as a way of maintaining positive past identities as part of an ever richer and more diverse self-image.
I will close now as I am awaiting a call from the Seniors Centre for a discussion about my upcoming retirement workshop

Teuscher, Ursina (2010).  Identity Development and Retirement, INT’L Journal Aging   and Human Development, 70(1) 89-106.