In my evolving understanding of how best to support people living with dementia, I came to realize several years ago that it was never really about antipsychotic drugs—it was about well-being. And more recently, I have come to realize that it wasn’t really about well-being either—it’s about humanity and human rights.
Ah, the knee-jerk response that is ageism…. I’ve been teaching and speaking and writing about ageism for years now. But, this was one of those times it felt deeply personal for me, even if I can’t call Faye and Warren BFFs. Here were two artistic giants from MY time. As a lover of fine films, I grew up watching Warren and Faye own the screen in darkened movie theaters (yeah, pre-Netflix and all). They deserved better than this.
The insidious thing about otherization is that it is applied to all kinds of distinctions: race, ethnicity, gender, ability, and sexual orientation, to name a few. And, of course, to age.
Calls for a de-youthanized science are not lofty, liberal political appeals; they are attempts to actually purify gerontological science and practice. A de-youthanized science means a more valid, generalizable science—a science, for example, that adequately samples older adults in the service of providing sufficiently evidence-based recommendations for diagnosis and treatment
Agism cuts both ways, discriminating against both the so-called ‘young’ and ‘old,’ and turns these two seemingly innocuous words into pejoratives. When ‘young’ and ‘old’ are used colloquially rather than as they were intended (as comparative markers of time) they become profane.
Like questions about any other topic, the ones we ask about aging and the ways in which we choose to answer them reveal what we believe and care about.
Growing older is nightmarish, but it also provides glimpses of how heaven is right here within reach. I think these glimpses, which reside in the failing sight of the old, and the disabled, are precious, and should be a regular part of our collective journey into mystery.
As a culture, we have adopted a sort of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy about sexuality, which, of course, stifles dialogues about sexual health for almost everyone at any age. To complicate matters, we also place a high social premium on youthfulness. So naturally, conversations about sex and aging represent the paragon of taboo in this country.