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Friday, November 30, 2012

Media and Ageism

            The role of the media in supporting ageism[i]

Mass media, particularly television and movies, define social roles in contemporary culture by presenting a steady and repetitive portrayal of images and a system of messages. Studies reveal the common perception in the media that youth sells and youth buy. This view causes television shows, movies, and advertisements to feature young characters to bring in large audiences and revenues. The media emphasize youth and beauty, fast-paced action and lives, and overly simplistic portrayals of individuals. This emphasis exacerbates the negative image of aging and the elderly in American culture, because the stereotypes of aging are the antithesis of the attributes upon which television and movies thrive.
The image of aging depicted in the media has generally been one of negative stereotyping, a portrayal that seems to be more negative than any other social group. In American culture, the aged are not depicted as experienced "elders." Rather, older people are tolerated and respected to the extent they can act like younger people and work, exercise, and have healthy relationships.
Research from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, shows a continuing negative portrayal of older persons and the elderly by the media, manifested mostly through comments referring to decline and deterioration in old age.
The media also tend to exclude or severely underrepresent the elderly in the images presented on television compared to the proportion of elderly in the U.S. population. While the population age sixty-five and older represents almost 13 percent of the U.S. population, only about 8 percent of the roles in television commercials in the 1990s were of older persons (Tupper). Older women are almost invisible in prime-time television shows and movies.
Similarly, television advertising, which has a profound effect on influencing and shaping attitudes, repeatedly conveys negative stereotypes by representing older persons as feeble, forgetful, stubborn, and helpless. Repeated exposure to negative stereotypes about aging and the elderly in commercial advertising can lead to a devaluing of the elderly.
Advertisers clearly focus their marketing on younger women who are primarily responsible for household purchases. The common perception among advertising agencies is that younger age groups spend more than older age groups. Recent studies show that while sixty-five to seventy-four-year-old consumers outspend their counterparts in the thirty-five to forty-four-yearold category, ad agency staff ignored older audiences and underappreciated their potential and power as consumers.
Newspapers and magazines generally present neutral images of aging and do not create or support negative images of the elderly in their coverage of stories or in advertisements.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fighting Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse It’s Time to Face Reality[i]
         This material was found in a folder at the local senior’s centre and I think the information should have a wider exposure. The handout discusses psychological, financial, and physical abuse.
         “One in five Canadians believes they know of a senior who might be experiencing some form of abuse. Seniors from all walks of life are vulnerable to elder abuse and its happening in communities across Canada.”
         “Outlined here is basic information on how seniors and Canadians can spot elder abuse as well as information on how to help stop it.”
What is Elder Abuse?
         “Elder abuse is any action by anyone in a relationship of trust the results in harm or distress to an older person.  Neglect is a lack of action by that person in a relationship of trust with the same result. Commonly recognized types of elder abuse include physical, psychological and financial.  Often, more than on type of abuse occurs at the same time. Abuse can be a single incident or a repeated pattern of behaviour.”
         “Financial abuse is the most commonly reported type of elder abuse.”
Why does elder abuse happen?
         “Elder abuse often occurs because of the abuser’s power and control over an older person.  In some situations, the abuse may also result from addiction issues (drugs, alcohol, gambling), mental health problems, a cycle of family violence or ageism. Abuse can happen when the aggressor wants to intimidate, isolate, dominate, or control another person.”
Who abuses Seniors?
         “ Older adults effected by abuse often know and trust the person mistreating them.  Elder abuse can be caused by a family member, a friend, someone who provides assistance with basic needs or services, or health care providers in institutional settings. In many situations of elder abuse, the abuser is dependent on the other adult for money, food or shelter.”

Who is affected by elder abuse?
         “Most older people who experience abuse are able to make decisions for themselves.”
         “Abuse can happen to anyone, in any family or relationship. It can happen to people of backgrounds, ages, religions, races, cultures and ethnic origins.”

Why are some older adults reluctant to talk about elder abuse?
         “Older adults may feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone they are being abused by someone they trust.  They may fear retaliation or punishment, or they may have concerns about having to move from their home or community.  They may also feel a sense of family loyalty.  Often, older adults may not be aware of people and resources that can help.”

Who can help?
         “It is important that the older person has access to information to make informed decisions and be aware of available help.  This may include support and assistance from family members or friends, health care providers, social services, police, legal professional and/or members of faith communities. No one ever deserves to be abused of neglected.”

What are the indicators of abuse and neglect?
         “Elder abuse and neglect can be very difficult to detect. The following signs and symptoms may indicate that an older adult is being victimized or neglected.”

·        fear, anxiety, depression or passiveness in relation to family member, friend or care provider;
·        unexplained physical injuries;
·        dehydration, poor nutrition, or poor hygiene;
·        improper use of medication;
·        confusion about legal documents, such as new will or a new mortgage;
·        sudden drop in case flow or financial holdings; and
·        reluctance to speak about the situation.”

What is:

“Physical abuse of seniors?”

·        striking;
·        hitting;
·        pushing;
·        shaking;
·        burning;
·        shoving;
·        inappropriate physical and chemical restraints; or
·        harm created by over or under medicating”

“Psychological abuse”

“Psychological abuse of seniors includes actions that decrease their sense of self-worth and dignity and may include:
·        insults;
·        threats;
·        intimidation;
·        humiliation;
·        harassment;
·        treating them like a child; or
·        isolating them from family, friends and regular activities.”

“Financial Abuse”

“Financial abuse includes actions that decrease the worth of an older person, without benefit to that person and may includes:
·        misusing or stealing a senior’s assets, property or money;
·        cashing an elderly person’s cheques without authorization;
·        forging an elderly person’s signature
·        unduly pressuring seniors to make or change a will, or to sign legal documents that they do not fully understand; and
·        sharing an older person’s home without paying a fair share of the expenses when requested.”

“Neglect of seniors”

“Neglect includes interactions that may result in harm to an older person and may include a caregiver or family member not providing appropriate:
·        water or food;
·        shelter;
·        clothing;
·        medication or medical attention; and
·        assistance with basic necessities.”
Seniors that are the most vulnerable to neglect include those who are socially isolated, and those with serious health conditions.”

 Finally, a survey that included 3,001 Canadians, including 718 seniors aged 65 and older that was conducted between May 21st and June 6th 2008 found that “…96 percent of Canadians think most of the abuse experienced by older adults is hidden or goes undetected.”

[i] To find out more on what the government of Canada is doing for seniors visit  ISBN 978-0-662-06370-4 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Unique Nature of Ageism

There are many factors that lead to the expression of prejudice toward various social groups, including”…implicit attitudes, associations, social norms, social identity concerns, inter-group contact and inter-group conflict.”  (Just take a look at what’s happening in the Middle East right now). In terms of ageism, implicit attitudes toward older people tend to be quite negative.”  This is ironic because unlike the other group prejudices, everyone who lives long enough will enter into the category old age, elder, senior etc.
         “The transitional nature of age groups may add a number of unique factors that can trigger ageist attitudes. Research has found that among younger adults  “…exposure to older adults increases the accessibility of death related thoughts about one’s own death”. In other words being around elders may create negative feelings.  On the other side it has been found that more positive attitudes toward one’s own aging can lead to increased liking for older acquaintances like grandparents.
         Not much research has been done examining personal and interpersonal attitudes toward ones own aging “…for instance, in appearance, health, cognitive function, independence and relationships with friends and family.  There is also the concern about social identity, which includes personality and social roles.  For example as a young man I was an athlete and think about that as I do my morning jogs around the neighborhood
         “Research has shown that motivation to acquire and maintain positive identity for one’s own group” can lead to putting down and discriminating against other groups especially if it has to do with treat to the positive identity of one’s own group.”   This “us versus them” can help us understand a lot of inter-group conflict.
         But with respect to aging  “…young and middle aged adults may be adverse to joining the lower status older adult group, and might express prejudice as a means of distancing themselves from older adults.”
         At the same time, and this is a thought to think about carefully, “Young and middle-aged adults who express prejudice toward older adults are, in a sense, condemning themselves to future membership in a despised group.  At the same time it could be reversed because “…positive social identities apply to the future as well as current group memberships. 
The article I have referred to is 29 pages long and digs deeper into what we might do to help reduce age prejudice

[1]  The source of this material is Packer, D.J. & A.L. Chasteen; Looking To The Future: How Possible Aged Selves Influence Prejudice Toward Older Adults, Social Cognition, Vol 24, No. 3 pp. 218-247.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

More Ageism in the Workplace

Work Managers and Ageist Biases [i]

         Eight years from now it has been predicted that at lease 39% of the United States workforce will be in their middle fifties. At the same time there are a growing number of workplace age discrimination claims. This situation has been found in other countries besides the United States. This situation is risky for organizations but also leads older workers to experience a lot of negative consequences.
         Why is this happening is a good question.“Age discrimination may be the result of the widespread belief that job performance decreased with age.”  At the same time “Evidence from a meta-analysis found no significant differences between age groups in objective work-performance measures.  But when the subjective measures were used the “…results indicated that older workers received lower performance scores when subjective supervisory ratings were used.”
         The authors (cited below) then state their research motivation.“What is lacking in this body of research, however, is an exploration of how employee age and manager ageism interact to create age bias, and how causal attributions mediate age-based decision making.”  Not much of previous research as investigated how these ageist biases that lead to personnel decisions manifest themselves. Finding our more about this is necessary so that ageism among management can be understood and reduced.
         So what may be causing this situation? “The current study seeks to explore if supervisors give systematically different (e.g. pessimistic) attributions for older versus younger workers’ errors on the job; and if such differences exist, whether such attributions affect the decisions made about these employees.”
         They used the following method.They gathered material from students at a university; most of them were females with average ages of 22 years and average years working 4.72. Participation was voluntary and all data collected was anonymous.

         Participants engaged in the following:
1.   They were given a job description including; a description of tasks, working conditions, physical demands, knowledge, skills and abilities      involved in the job.  These were gathered from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles
2.   A vignette was then provided describing the work behavior of the hypothetical employee (Pat). She was described as either young (31 years) or old (63) years. It contained “…a description of (a) some cognitive problems that the employee had been having on the job, such as difficulties with memory, problem solving, and attention to detail; (b) difficulties with physical demands associated with the job; and (c) statements regarding the safety and economic consequences the errors could have caused

3.   Asked what recommendations that should be carried out (evaluated on a seven point scale);
         a. “The employee should be terminated.”
         b. “The employee should be asked to resign.”
         c. “The employee should be demoted
         d. “The employee should be assigned to a different position                                                         
         e. “The employee should be provided with temporary job support or personal                                    counseling through an employee assistant program.
  4.  They were then asked write out what they felt were the major causes of the target employee’s job performance errors

Results and Discussion[ii]

1.   Older employees received more severe recommendations for poor performance suggesting that “…performance errors of older workers were more likely viewed as being a result of stable factors, as compared to younger workers
2.   Younger employees were more likely to receive recommendation for formal assistance (EAP) to remedy performance problems
3.    Possible reasoning; older persons performance from more stable causes e.g. personality, memory loss which would not be altered easily by specific intervention and also there is less, and possibly insufficient time

        Finally it is stated that:   “Our results also suggest that some ageist attitudes (stereotypes; negative attitudes; beliefs about instrumentality, autonomy and integrity) are related to recommendations that are biased against older individuals.  The authors admit that it might be better if the research was done with employees rather than students and that this may limit generalization

[i]  Rupp, D.E., Vodanovich S.J. & Crede, M. (2006). Age Bias in the Workplace:             The Impact of Ageism and Causal Attributions; Journal of Applied Social             Psychology, 36, 6, pp. 1337-1364 
[ii]   There’s a lot of information in the Results section I highly recommend that you             find a             way to get the original article.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Poem of Happiness

This Morning’s Journey

Leaving home my heart beat faster
Returning to my former place of work
Loosing my way might be disaster
But the journey I would not shirk

Driving deep in a valley filled with fog
I began deep breath
Like galloping while on my jog
Far away from fear of death

Then back on hills the sun was shining
Deep warmth came from inside out
Such joy is not surprising
With joy I felt the urge to shout

This morning’s journey
Like the trip of life
Had ups and downs
We all must have

Monday, November 12, 2012

Roots of Ageism

Exploring the Roots of Intergenerational Ageism[i]

         I recently came across a research article (cited below) that can be very useful to ICAL: Intergenerational Centre for Action Learning.
[Go to].  In this coming year our non-profit company, bc-communitybuilding [go] will begin a project using artistic activities to strengthen intergenerational relations and hopefully take another step in combating ageism. 
         The material in this blog entry is gathered from the article cited below. It is becoming increasingly clear that we must now increase our anti-ageism campaign.  The population is aging and we are continuing to struggle with an economic downturn (recession? depression?)
         The authors, after an extensive journal search tell us that  “Whatever the reason, age-based prejudice remains drastically under investigated, despite the salience of age in interpersonal judgments.”   Those who hold stereotypes, including ageism, go on to create “…pernicious short- and long-term consequences.”  These consequences can be subtle and complex.
         For instance the consequences are found in medicine where schools underemphasize geriatrics leading to medical mistreatment. In employment where “…evidence indicates that older applicants are rated less positively than younger ones, even when they are similarly qualified.”  And this is just some of the areas.
         Ageism can be very subtle and not hostile for instance “… well-meaning people unwittingly speak to older people using benevolent yet patronizing baby talk and demeaning, exaggeratedly slow and loud over accommodation.”
         As a consequence of ageism many seniors “…internalize negative stereotypes becoming more forgetful, sickly, and depressed, simply because they anticipate adopting such characteristics in their later life.”
         The authors go on to explore some theories used to explain ageism. I suggest that you go to the original article and explore them. If you have access you can find it on Psych Info or the author’s email address cited below.
         Here are just some of the additional topics discussed:
·  Benevolent Prejudices
·  Empirical Bases for Intergenerational Pessimism
·  Elder Optimism
·  Age Specific interests
·  Ensuring Successful Intergenerational contact
·  Cross-Cultural Explorations
·  Ageism against the young

[i] North, Michael S. &  Fiske, Susan, T., Intergenerational Ageism and it’s potential intergenerational roots. Psychological Bulletin, 19391455,             20120901, Vol, 138, Issue 5.  Correspondence for article should be directed to: Michael S. North. Princeton University, Dept of Psych, Green Hall, Princeton Email:


Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Love of my LIfe

Sitting on the Edge of Time

Looking through the window of my computer
Listening to the outside world
With over seventy years of life gone past

To an uncertain future; slowing eyes, ears and memory
I smile, look over the edge of time, then jump.

No, someone says he’s too old
No one laughs
And then, released from damns in each of us
New ideas flood our conversation

At times each flounders
Fearing he or she is beyond their depth.
But always someone throws a lifeline.
No one drowns

At last we’re tired 
And sit on cushions staring
Eyes meet again from flowing minds
We leave our thought adrift

What is democracy
But the right
To swim together
In conversation

Friday, November 9, 2012

Let The Journey Begin


         I have been invited to display three of my acrylic paintings at the Anonymous Art Show  

         I have three paintings that are small; eight inches by eight inches.  If sold they will cost  $100.oo with half of the money going to North Vancouver Community Arts Council, which will help support their many valuable community programs, projects and events. But the rest of the money will be for me.  If you would like more information about them go to 
         Over the past several years I have learned a lot about painting art from my wife Elizabeth who has just graduated from Kwantlen with Bachelor of Fine Arts. 
         There are several hundred persons who have been invited, each with up to three paintings.  So, it’s just exciting and even it I don’t sell anything, it’s a new beginning.  Remember the old saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  And of course if I do sell something I will come to my blog and tell the story around the world, 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Age Related Stereotypes

Reasons for Age Discrimination in the Workplace[i]
A Scenario
         Beth, an employer, wants to hire someone for a strenuous job that requires a great deal of training, which will take place over the course of several years.  The applicant who appears to be the most qualified is 58 years old; however Beth is concerned that the applicant will not be able to handle the physical demands of the position in the long run.  Further, she is concerned that the applicant will only continue working for several more years. Does Beth hire the applicant anyway? What choice would you give Beth?

         One reason that employers want to hire some workers is age-related stereotypes.  Employers may think that older workers are stuck in their ways, unable to adapt to new changes in the workplace, learn new technology, or keep up in general with new trends.  Companies often deem older workers as less flexible. Hiring managers may use euphemisms like “young blood” to say they want younger workers who they expect to have more energy and work harder, even though they lack experience.  Companies may think that older workers are just coasting as they wait for retirement and lack the same enthusiasm as younger hires.

[i]  Reasons for Age Discrimination

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Secret of Longevity?

Calorie Restricted Diet: The Secret of Longevity? [i]

         Cutting back on calories is now a growing research subject. In 1983 researchers found that lab mice dieted “… with all needed nutrients but with fewer than 30 to 60 percent fewer calories led to longer life and better health.”  Further;  “The National Institutes of Health report that “…under nutrition has increased life spans of nearly every species studied—protozoa, fruit flies, mice, rats and other laboratory animals.”  Further  “Many studies now exist to support the effects of calorie restriction for longer life and healthier old age.”
         Calorie restriction is important in several different areas including:  age related declines in DNA repair and keeping lowered body fat and blood sugar levels.
         You’ve read this so far. What do you think? The author, at the end, says, “Calorie restriction may not gain wide adoption among humans. But studies of calorie restriction reveal some of the mechanisms that lead to aging and disease in later life.”
         Reading this material made me think of the song “Who Wants To Live Forever

[i]  By M.L. Walford; in Mark Novak, (2006) ISSUES IN AGING  In Chapter 5 Personal Health and Well-Being, Page 126  ISBN 0-205-4398-7

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Aging Sterotypes

The Formation of Age Stereotypes[i]
A scenario:
Ageism in a Snow Bank: Walking along a snow-clogged street, a 60-year-old woman saw a car up ahead spinning its wheels. The woman assisted by adding her weight to the back of the vehicle and successfully pushed the car out. With the car now free, the young man was eager to thank the helper. As he rolled down the window, his jaw dropped at the sight of the older woman who had come to his rescue.

         The topics of physical activity, aging and social stereotyping are especially relevant to modern times because without an awareness of the connections between them, we continue to neglect the potential for all people to enjoy full lives.. Everyone wants to live a long and healthy life, but no one wants to “grow old.” And no one wants to work at staying young. That is the first thought about aging –⎯ no one wants to be old. Why? Because aging has long been blamed as the cause of a “disablement process” (Verbrugge & Jette, 1994). There is a perception that older people will invariably experience disabilities and various diseases as a direct result of aging.
         Other stereotypes include that most older people aren’t employed, don’t do much, have nothing interesting to talk about, and don’t have much fun. The older they get, the grumpier people seem. Older adults are seen by some as caught up in their own health concerns and full of complaints about how terrible the world is becoming. Their bodies seem to be falling apart, and many don’t like the contemporary world. Older adults don’t particularly like the noise and antics of younger people, and so choose to live in segregated communities where they can have a peaceful retirement away from the fast pace of community life.
         Well, these things may be true of some older adults, but for many, it is a stereotype. Such thoughts are expressions of ageism ⎯ the differential treatment of people according to age. The self-segregation of older and younger members of society keeps their unique lives secret, and promotes generational estrangement and ignorance. Ageism thrives when older people and younger people don’t live, work or play together. What if a 44 year old man wanted to play on a youth hockey team? Would this be objectionable? What if the middle-aged man was Wayne Gretzky? Who would want a grandfather on their community soccer team? Well, you would be
February 2005        
         Overcoming Ageism in Active Living sorry not to have Brazilian star Pele as a player on your community team – he just happens to be 61. How about Geoff Henwood? He started gymnastics classes just a few years ago, and he is not 6 years old. He is not 8 years old. He is 86!
         The above individuals are examples of how men can aspire to maintain performance in fitness and sport even into advanced age. There are some exceptional older women too, but ageism judges women more harshly (Vertinsky, 1995). In active living settings, older women generally experience a double whammy of ageism combined with sexism. Indeed, today’s older woman may have acquired some sport skills, but even if she was very fit, until recently, there was no soccer team for her. Her place in society is already prescribed, and she knows people will think “she is off her rocker” if she plays soccer. Generally we think that an elderly woman should be a nice grandmother, sit in her chair, read or watch TV, and play with the grandchildren whenever they happen to come over. Anyway, no older women ever want to play soccer... or do they?

[i]  Cousins, S. O. (2005)  Overcomming ageism in Active Living, Report for Active Living Coalition for Older Adults