Changing the culture is hard, and it involves struggle. That struggle doesn’t start in a shopping cart, whether online or at Walmart. It starts between our ears, with the uncomfortable task of confronting our own, largely unconscious, age bias.
It’s part of a larger trend that that New York Times has dubbed a “medical mystery of the best kind”: common diseases of aging are in retreat in the United States and some other wealthy countries.
The goal of aging-simulation experiences — “to build empathy and awareness”—is commendable. But does donning an “aging suit” actually do that? Actual 85-year-olds, whose experiences are deeply variable and who are navigating the world despite a range of functional limitations, don’t think so.
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.
I like to talk about becoming an Old Person in Training as way to move beyond denial, overcome internalized ageism, and connect to our future selves.
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.”