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Combating ageism for successful ageing

In this video, Sabina Brennan talks about how combating ageism is important for successful ageing.

Ageism refers to deep-rooted negative beliefs about older people.

It can be difficult to see the full impact of stereotypes. Evidence shows how negative stereotypes about ageing can become self-stereotypes. We can end up behaving according to our internalised stereotype, fulfilling our own prophesies of ageing.

So, what strategies can we use to combat ageism, both within ourselves and from others?

1. See the person and not the age

Check your own prejudices and question whether you are making assumptions about your own or others’ abilities based on age.

2. Seek to engage with people at least 20 years older or 20 years younger than you

Check yourself for prejudices as you chat, and dismiss these thoughts in favour of openness and a willingness to discover more about the person than their age.

3. Challenge negative stereotypes

Call out any discrimination you might come across.

4. Check your language

Do you use phrases like “back in my day” or “when I was in my prime”? Frame these expressions more positively (e.g. When I was in my 20s) rather than referring to yourself as a lesser person than when you were younger.

5. Be proud of getting older

Acknowledge the reality that most older adults live well and independently. Only 5% of adults over 65 live in nursing homes or other forms of assisted living (United States Census Bureau, 2014).

So, having watched the video and learned some strategies to combat negative ageing stereotypes, we would like you to think about some of your assumptions.

  • Do you make assumptions based on the age of others?
  • Why do you think you hold these assumptions?

Share your thoughts on these two questions in the Comments below, mark the step as complete and click Next to move on to the next step in this week.

Sabina Brennan is a Research Assistant Professor in Psychology at Trinity College Dublin.

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Strategies for Successful Ageing

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