Ashton Applewhite’s new book This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism is a wake-up call, especially for those who have the urge to make a difference while here, alive, and with the heart for change.
About eight years ago, Ashton Applewhite began interviewing people over 80 for a project called “So when are you going to retire?” It didn’t take her long to realize that almost everything she thought she knew about aging was wrong. So she wrote a book to set the record straight.
The tension between generations is indeed worth studying, but mostly as a red herring and a symptom of how aging has been reframed as a problem.
According to a growing body of research, the average lifespan of those with high levels of negative beliefs about old age is 7.5 years shorter than those with more positive beliefs. In other words, ‘ageism’ may have a cumulative harmful effect on personal health.
Anyone who fights ageism by working hard to understand its internal or external character is, first and foremost, the practitioner of a noble craft. Like acting, it takes experience and perseverance to hone one’s skills.
Age discrimination affects our country’s business, economy, values, and human dignity. It’s time we transform our perceptions of aging, from dependency and weakness to one of proficiency and resourcefulness.
Every few weeks there seems to be a new story about how attitudes towards aging affect the way older minds and bodies function. The latest is irresistibly titled: “Karma bites back: Hating on the elderly may put you at risk of Alzheimer’s.”
How we perceive aging and the viability of older adults determines our willingness –– or reluctance –– to tackle social inequity, lack of access to services and opportunities, and other common challenges our elders face.