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Monday, October 29, 2012

Combatting Ageism


         British Columbia’s Human Rights Code protects people 19 and over from being treated differently and poorly because of their age. We all have a duty to respect each other’s human rights. The B.C. Human Rights Code (The Code) is an important law that protects people from discrimination, including harassment. The Code allows a person or group to file a complaint with the BC Human  Rights Tribunal if they believe they have  been discriminated against or harassed, and protects them from retaliation if they make a  complaint.

         An employer cannot make age an issue or advertise for a certain age when hiring. An ad must not say, “only mature people need apply” or “young people wanted.” An employer
cannot refuse an older applicant because “...the job requires a lot of energy and enthusiasm and the company is looking for someone with career potential. “When hiring, an employer can ask someone if they are legal working age, but cannot ask anything that could reveal age. After hiring, an employer might legitimately need to know the employee’s age for a purpose like enrolment in a pension or benefits plan.

         As of Jan. 1, 2008, mandatory retirement, with some exceptions, is no longer allowed in British Columbia. The choice about when to retire is up to the employee. Early retirement benefits can be offered to all employees as an
incentive to retire, but an employee cannot be forced to retire. 
Situations where age distinctions are allowed in employment:

Jobs with Age Limits
         There may be some jobs with age limits because of the duties or needs of work or because of safety issues or dangers. These true demands of a job are called bona fideoccupational requirements. The employer must be able to show that the reasons for the age limits are acceptable under the Code.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Retirement: Out of the Game?

Retirement Identity in Modern Society

      The following ideas are connected to an excellent book that I rediscovered on my upstairs bookshelf.[i]  The authors’ premise argues that since we are now in a consumer society upon retirement “The individual’s role within the productive process is no longer central.  “Increasingly identities are expressed, revised and represented through consumption”
      In addition boundaries between the working class and middle class have become blurred. “Rather than class coming to serve as a cornerstone in people’s sense of self, that role increasingly is performed through consumption.” 
      As we become retired a lot of us have to be more careful about spending what money we have. It may be more accurate to perceive retirement as a structurally imposed identity thrust upon older people by a society dominated by the interests of capitalist economy.”
      If that is the case no wonder that in election debates, aside from the NDP, the major parties have little to say about the difficulties faced by older people as the society attempts to plow it’s way through the current “economic downturn”
      Especially, as things get worse governments like those in Canada and the USA discuss finances in terms of Trillions of dollars.  And instead of expecting seniors to pull us out “… the gap between the well of and the (relatively) poor older adult population will continue to widen unless there is a massive expansion of state provision—a scenario that seems extremely unlikely.”

[i] Gilleard, C. & Higgs, P. (2000). Cultures of aging: Self. Citizen, and the Body, Pearson Education Limited

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Are You Ready????

Preparing For Retirement

Something very exciting happened today as I surfed the research engine of Psych Info.  I came across and article published by researchers in New Zealand this past spring.  It explores the process of retirement planning including financial, health, lifestyle and psychosocial processes. Pre-retirees are learning that they need to spend more time on the planning aspects of retirement.
The researchers, Noone, Stephens, and Alpass have constructed a survey investigating the processes of retirement planning. The items are spread through four categories.
How would you see             yourself?

Retirement Representation:
I often talk to my family about financial issues for retired people
I often compare my current health with how I would like to be in the future.
I often compare how I spend my time now with how I would like to spend my time in retirement.
I often compare my current roles with the roles I would like to have as a retired person.
Retirement Goals:
I have specific goals about the financial position I want in retirement.
I have specific goals for my long-term health
I have specific goals about regarding how I want to spend my time in retirement
I have specific goals regarding the future roles I would like to hold as a retiree.
The Decision to Prepare for Retirement
I’d rather deal with any financial issues closer to retirement, rather than making financial provisions now.
It’s too early for me to consider my long-term health.
I know that people in my age group are developing new ways to spend their time.
It is worthwhile to prepare for changes to my roles as a retired person.
Preparing to retire:
By the time I retire, I will have sufficient income to ensure the standard of living I want in retirement,
I only eat foods that will benefit my long-term health
There are many things I could do with my time if I was forced to retire today
I have many things outside of work that I would like to pursue.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Who Want's to Live Forever?

Centenarians[i] On My Birthday

         Today is my birthday. I’m now 73; so I have twenty-seven years left to get ready for my hundredth birthday. The authors’ (sited below) objective is to get us to increase our curiosity about being 100 years old or older.   The background for their project is that are a growing number of negative aging stereotypes (ageism).  So, they developed a book of individual stories about centenarians to stimulate our curiosity in the battle against ageism.
         To accomplish their goal, they interviewed 24 persons who are 100 years or more. “Each Person was asked to retell, using their own words, something about themselves and the social context that shaped their lives.”
To encourage a story telling approach, they were asked to discuss the following questions:
·   What is it like to have lived one hundred years?
·   What, in your opinion has contributed to longevity
·   What matters today?

What did they find?
         People wanted to talk about their early years and they gave the following advice items to those of us who desire a long life. They  were:
·   Lead a simple life
·   Eat well
·   Work hard
·   Stay interested in events and surroundings
·   Help others
·   Be moderate in all things
·   Maintain a sense of humor
·   Keep Active
         Whoops, I must end here as it is time for my morning jog in the neighborhood

[i] Koch, T., Power, C., & Kralik, D. (2007).  Researching with Centenarians, International             Journal of Older People Nursing 2, 52-61

Friday, October 12, 2012

Television and Ageism

Who do We See on Television and Ageism[i]
         One of my favorite TV shows is Glee.  Do I like it because of the wonderful music or am I more interested in the behavior of the young performers and their stories? I suppose there is little bit of both.
         First a little background.  It is stated that Television “…is the most important mass medium in U.S. society (and in much of the rest of the world).” For one thing there are very few older characters in prime time shows.  “When elders are absent or rare, it may send a message that elders are unimportant or uninteresting.” 
         There is also a gender issue.  “Only 10 percent of people on TV that are over 65 are female” and they are more likely to be negatively portrayed. In reality there are older women are more likely to be experienced as nurturer’s displaying s adoring attendance to others and, in every population and every country: women everywhere live longer than men by 4 to 5 years.
         It has also been found that “…elders in nighttime television series are usually the ‘bad guys” more likely to fail and be unhappy.
         Another factor is that “…elders in commercials are less likely to be physically active and are more likely to have health problems than younger people.”
         “On the other hand, public affairs and talk shows generally present elders positively. Elders on these shows tend to be influential business leaders or politicians, or respected actors or artists.”
         So, it appears then, that TV shows have manifested and reinforced ageist stereotypes.  At the same time Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil show us how older people can help others. There aren’t that many.    Off hand I can think of several; Tom Selleck, Ted Danson, Harrison Ford, Lana Delaney, Christine Boronsky, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz.  Not many considering the volume of TV.

[i] Material comes from highly recommended Ageism Negative and Positive by Dr, Erdman Palmore  ISBN  0-8261-7000-5

Monday, October 8, 2012

New Ageism” in The Workplace[i]

         While the following information was published in the UK about 10 years ago, let’s assume that there is still improvement to be done and not only in the UK but all of the business world. Reading the article, given at the bottom of the post, will help develop a deeper understanding of "new ageism."
         The article opens with a statement that “Older workers in recent times have become increasingly under-represented in the workforce….” Data is then cited that supports this statement. It may be assumed to be because employers are recruiting and keeping at work younger workers over older workers.
         The policy makers in the United Kingdom have responded to this data.  In 1999 they published a voluntary code of practice, with the goal of employing older workers expressed in the principle of “equal opportunities of employment.”  Why is it that while organizations may use the language of “equal opportunity” the problem still exists? 
         The authors then describe how this situuation can be analyzed by using discourse analysis. “What this means, in relation to age discrimination, is that the use of the language of equal opportunities cannot be accepted simply as evidence of a consistent commitment on the part of organizations to implement fair employment practices and thus improve the prospects of older workers?”
         The researchers carried out some interviews with human resource managers or recruitment managers of just over 10 medium to large enterprises operating on a UK-wide basis.
         The following three sets of responses were used:
"1)   Avoiding ‘ageist’ attributions 1 Making non-discriminatory practices visible.
2)   Avoiding ‘ageist” attributions 2 Making discriminatory practices less visible.
3)    Avoiding ‘ageist’ attributions 3 Making potentially discriminatory practices invisible."

Dialogue Examples:

1) CM: “Could you tell me what sort of form [your equal          opportunity policy] takes?
  LL:” We have an equal opportunities statement exam and we are in the process of forming it into a full-blown policy etc. But I do say that we don’t discriminate against ethnic origin, etc. etc.  We don’t include age at the moment, we’re sort of… we are revising our handbook at the          moment, we are inserting age and some other issues, to make it up front (.)  I don’t think we have discriminated against age per se in the past, but I do want it to be up front anyway.”

2)    CM: What sort of age balance is there within [organization name] say between younger worker and the over 40s?
      LL: A high percentage of the population is under 34 years old (.)  I      mean it is something like 70% of the organization is under 30.

3)    CM:  Why is there that age balance in [organization name]

      LL:  We’re still suffering because the older ones all left you          know, a couple of years on the early retirement err (.) and          certainly now the population is too young arm, for the type of work that we are asking them to do.

         “The responses obtained in the present study, which draw explicitly upon language of equal opportunities and seek to justify the non-employment of older workers in non-ageist terms, similarly would appear to reflect a form of “new ageism”

         Finally, using flexible categories and “easy deployment of mundane reasoning ”… may indicate that new ageist discourse may  be easier to use than other forms “new” discriminatory talk and harder to remedy than other ‘new isms and within the world of work.

[i]  McVittie, C., McKinley, A. & Widdicomebe, S. (2003).  Committed to (un)equal opportunities?: ‘New Ageism’ and the older worker, British Journal of Social Psychology, 42, 595-612.    

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ah, the Grandkids[i]

        Last week my granddaughter and her husband came for a visit and the brought along their three-year old twin daughters.  I haven’t spent much time with them before. This time the family stayed for four hours. As they left they said that they would soon invite us to their new residence.
       Over the past years I have had little contact with my grandchildren. Mostly, but not very frequently, I have visits with my two sons.  Neither of them is married and they live in downtown Vancouver.
        So, in this case, I need to consider my connections with my grandchildren and their children.  We are instructed from the book Don’t Sweat to let the “children” pick the conversational topics, at least in the beginning.  We did that and my grand daughter and her husband talked about their work and recreational activities.  The great grandchildren spent quite a bit of time playing with our cat Ella.
     Don’t Sweat suggests that a good conversation can be carried around technology “Technology, is a great place to start.  If you allow your grandchildren to advise you on the operation of your new computer, for example, that will give them the opportunity to achieve something by helping you.  In addition to warm feelings that you’ll get when your grandchild confides in you, you’ll pick up some sound technology advice.     “  In that case I am pretty well up to date on my laptop and any problems are solved by my wife. Besides the twins are not giving advice yet

[i]  Page 68 of The Don’t Sweat Guide to Retirement

Monday, October 1, 2012

Analyzing Ageism[i]

      This blog is dedicated to the study of the lives of older persons.   Ageism is presented and discussed frequently. All of those articles are important and published by researchers who seek make life better for seniors.  Since ageing is a process that all of us go through, it is important that we and those around us, both younger and older, have a clear understanding of by ageism means and what we can do about it.
       Yes, perhaps this is just a dream. After all, sexism and racism still exist but do they have to exist forever?  Is it “normal” to be prejudiced? Over time there have been several definitions of ageism.
      The authors of this article, listed below, give us the following definition of ageism.
      “ Ageism is defined as negative or positive stereotypes, prejudice and/or discrimination against (or to the advantage of) elderly people on the basis of their chronological age or on the basis of a perception of them as being ‘old’ or ‘elderly’. Ageism can be implicit or explicit and can be expressed on a micro-meso- or macro-meso level.”
      “The concept includes the classic social psychological components in the form of; 1) cognitive (stereotypes), 2) affective (prejudice), 3) and a behavioral component (discrimination), in other words how we on the basis of chronological age or age categorization mistakenly; 1) think of, 2) feel for,  3) and act out on the aging human being. 
Furthermore, ageism can operate both consciously (explicitly) and unconsciously (implicitly) and it can manifest itself on three different levels; the individual (micro-level), in social networks (meso-level) and on institutional and cultural level (macro level)

[i] Iverson, T.N., Larsen, L. & Solem, P.E. (2009).  A Conceptual Analysis of             Ageism. Nordic Psychology, Vol 61(3), 4-22   DOI  1027/1901-2276.61.3.4