The American Society on Aging is promoting this day to help reframe how we talk about aging and older people in a society where ageism is pervasive.
Modeled after the United Nation’s International Day of Older Persons celebrated on Oct. 1, Ageism Awareness Day provides an opportunity to draw attention to the existence and impact of ageism in our society.
What is Ageism?
“Ageism refers to the stereotypes (how we think), prejudices (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age.” (WHO-World Health Organization). Further, ageism is the most widespread and socially accepted form of prejudice. On a global scale, one in two people is ageist according to WHO.
According to the American Society on Aging’s fact sheet, there are many types of ageism. Some of these include:
- Those we internalize–how we feel about ourselves as we age and how we conduct these feelings on others who are aging.
- Those that are implicit–our unconscious bias toward others.
- Those that are cultural– ingrained in us through media and societal attitudes in general.
- Those that patronizing—the beliefs that include the need to “take care” of older people because they are unable to take care of themselves as a result of age.
What about Older People Who are Blind or Low Vision?
Older people who are blind or low vision face a double whammy. Studies over the years have documented that people fear losing vision and, along with it, continued quality of life and loss of independence. A JAMA study in 2016 indicated that their fears were “equal to or worse than losing hearing, memory, speech, or a limb.”
As noted in the APH VisionAware post on the International Day of Older Persons, observed on October 1 each year, “According to the Census Bureau, by 2034, the United States will be comprised of more older adults than of children and there will be 77 million people age 65 and over compared to 76.5 million under the age of 18. The number of people with vision loss, too, is scheduled to double by 2050, tracking the aging trajectory of the population.”
What Can We Do to Combat Ageism as it Relates to Vision Loss?
With these numbers in mind, it is implicit that the fields of aging and vision loss come together to “reframe” not only our attitudes, but also to “reframe” our actions as we strive to meet the challenges implicit in addressing the needs of this ever-growing population.
The Aging and Vision Loss National Coalition is working on this reframing effort through its public awareness committee. Get involved today.
Big Data is a Big Deal for Older People with Vision Loss – VisionAware—a project to determine the prevalence of vision loss in older people.
Time to Be Bold – Welcome to Time to Be Bold—a public awareness campaign designed to educate, engage and empower people who are 55+ with low vision to maintain/regain their independence.
Age-Inclusion | American Society on Aging (asaging.org)–more resources