Personal Politics of Ageism

Article – from the political to the personal

Negative views of ageing and older people need to be challenged.  One of the most influential pieces of research that we have come across recently is by Becca Levy (click here to find out more) who demonstrated the pernicious effect of negative stereotypes.  She found that people with negative attitudes towards their own ageing died, on average, 7.5 years earlier than those with more positive attitudes.  Guy has taken this finding and tried to draw the connections between this piece of psychological research and the more political (“with a small ‘p’”) issues relating to media treatment of ageing and common attitudes towards older people in society. It was published in the professional journal “Working with Older People”.

The solid research referred to Guy’s article provides a compelling case for older people to engage in the work of cultivating a positive awareness of ageing. The tools are there for those who want to use them.  Courses such as Positive Ageing represent a new and positive paradigm for later life, providing the sort of pro-active approach which has not been in evidence until now.  We need to continue to challenge and tackle ageism at a societal level, but we also need to pay more attention to its impact on individuals.  Bemoaning the impact is not that helpful – doing ‘the work of growing old’ is a much better way forward.