Scanning the globe for news by, for and about Senior Citizens
“The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the tendency to portray older adults in stereotypical ways. What we have been seeing from different sources, such as social media, the media and government officials around the world, is a portrayal of people aged 70 and over as unable to contribute to society, frail and helpless.”Professor Alison Chasteen a University of Toronto behavioral scientist who specializes in stereotyping, prejudice, and stigma across the lifespan
- ‘I don’t think I owe that:’ Amherstburg senior who is visually impaired shocked by $13K cell phone bill
This is an absolute disaster, @PonJosephine ! What are you doing to protect these seniors??? Or are you just waiting for the inevitable because, as you put it in your Nov 6 statement, “like it or not seniors are at higher risk”?!? #ableg #abseniors https://t.co/3jAUuC5ilt
— Lori Sigurdson (@LoriSigurdson) November 11, 2020
Ever since whispers of a virus began trickling into the mainstream, Dr. Michelle Porter had a sense that her area of expertise — aging — would soon become increasingly relevant.
She heard reports and commentary from hotspots in Asia and Europe early in 2020 that the novel coronavirus was “just” or “only” killing elderly people. Somehow, despite hundreds of people of all ages in hospital or facing death at home, the severity of the situation was being downplayed as a niche threat facing older individuals.
There were morbid suggestions, including by the lieutenant-governor of Texas, that seniors should sacrifice their lives in order for the economy to continue functioning.
“Ageism hasn’t been made worse by the pandemic,” says Porter, the director of the University of Manitoba’s Centre on Aging. “It’s just highlighting that it exists.”
First coined in the 1960s, ageism refers to a form of prejudicial discrimination, akin to racism or sexism, that devalues lives while harming people based on implicit and explicit biases surrounding age. Typified by stereotypes and differential — often patronizing, demeaning and dangerous — treatment, ageism can occur at individual, collective and institutional levels.
“It’s a form of discrimination that has largely remained acceptable,” said Porter.
A refrain of American politics is the lack of representation of women, Blacks and Hispanics in the political arena. But almost as striking in 2020 is the exclusion of young people.
Those at the highest levels of the American government have never been older: Joe Biden, the next president, is currently 77 and will celebrate a birthday later this month. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, is 80. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is 78. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is young by comparison at 65, but four of his eight colleagues are older than him.
It hasn’t always been this way. John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama began their terms of office while in their 40s. In contrast, Donald Trump was 70 when he assumed power in 2016 and Biden will be 78.
The age of those holding executive, legislative and judicial power in Washington, D.C., sends a warning. American politicians are much more generous to the old than they are to the young. After all, the country does have public health care, but only for those 65 and older.
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