Debunking age-related stereotypes

Jan 26th, 2021 | By | Category: Spotlight

Age shouldn’t matter. Boomers know how to handle the pandemic. Young and old alike are better together. And technology gurus should keep older people in mind.

Erica Baird and Karen Wagner believe these are four truths worth promoting in the spirit of debunking stereotypes about age. The retired lawyers are co-founders of Lustre.net, an online portal dedicated to talking about the value that older people offer to society. Baird and Wagner want women in particular and seniors in general to “forge new identities and find new purpose—and pass on what we know to the next generation.” For instance:

Older people are people, too.

According to the World Health Organization, ageism affects at least 600 million people worldwide. Ageism serves only to legitimize stereotypes of older people and leads to views, such as those articulated during the pandemic, that maybe the pandemic is not so bad if it only affects older people (which of course it doesn’t). It’s time to ditch those false assumptions. Older people are living longer and better than ever. If they’re lucky, every younger person will one day be older. Everyone needs to understand that older people are people, too.

Boomers have skills that help them handle the pandemic.

Boomers have solved many problems in their time. They also know that crises can bring about positive change. They lived through the dawn of modern feminism, the birth of the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War protests, and the AIDS crisis. So while they hate the pandemic, they know how to deal with the daily dramas, and they know it will bring some useful changes when it is over.

Younger and older people are better off if they live in the same communities.

Older people are in the prime of their lives. They offer experience and perspective to younger people, who in turn have energy and exuberance that can benefit elders. Diversity of perspectives is a good thing. Isolating older people by housing them in retirement communities and excluding them from the workforce is a waste. Never before have so many generations lived at the same time. Keeping them together profits everyone.

Older people should participate in tech design.

Thanks to the pandemic, right now is Zoom time, and everyone is connecting virtually. Older people know this isn’t the way anyone wants to live, but they also know how to make it work for the moment. In their careers, when technology flowered, they learned its value and how to use it. Zoom is just an extension of what they already know. Older people do sometimes get frustrated with technology—who doesn’t—but they are seldom asked for input on the design of anything.

Older adults are adapting to video chats and technology advances, so why not involve them in tech design?

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