Let’s Talk About Ageism

Ageism is a Big Topic

Discussing ageism is important

Can we talk about Ageism? Ageism exists for people of all ages and the best way to combat it is to talk about it. Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten what you went in there for? Maybe you chalked it up to a “senior moment.” Have you ever been to a restaurant where the server, who is much younger than you, speaks to you as if you are a young child and calls you sweetie or pumpkin? Similarly, perhaps you’ve told someone “you look good for your age.” I’ll bet you have. I know I have.

All of these scenarios have one thing in common. They’re all examples of ageism. Ageism is something most people experience at one point or another. As a matter of fact, if you take a close look at your own life, you’ve likely experienced ageism. You may have been guilty of ageist behaviors yourself.

Ageism is a really big topic to try to tackle in a podcast episode, but it’s an important conversation to have, so in this episode of Sage Aging, we dove right in to talk about ageism. Click the player above to listen. The transcript is at the bottom of this page.

My Guest

<img src="sageagingpodcastkathyblack.jpg" alt="Sage Aging Episode 8 Season 2 Let's Talk About Ageism Dr. Kathy Black USF">Dr. Kathy Black joined me for this discussion about ageism. If you’ve been listening to the podcast from the beginning, that name should sound familiar. Kathy was the second-ever guest on the Sage Aging podcast (Here is our conversation about social isolation). Not only is Dr. Black someone I’m honored to call my friend, but she’s an accomplished expert in the field of aging. As a Professor of Aging Studies and Social Work at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee campus, Kathy has led many a discussion about ageism.

My personal introduction to Kathy came via the Age-Friendly Communities initiative by way of AARP. And when I say that she is a fountain of information and inspiration, that is a gross understatement. Dr. Black’s 40+ years of experience working globally in the field of aging made her the perfect pick for this episode.

Learn more about Dr. Kathy  Black. 

What we covered

What is Ageism?

“Ageism is described as thoughts, feelings, and actions towards people of other age groups.” Contrary to popular belief, ageism isn’t just directed toward older adults. It can occur in school, the workplace, and anyplace else for that matter. Any behavior that pushes a negative stereotype or prejudice because of a person’s age could be considered ageism.

Ageism can be self-inflicted

We live in a society that values staying young. How many times a day do you see ads for and messages about anti-aging? Because we consume so much of this type of messaging, it becomes the standard and it can become our own self-dialogue. Consequently, we can see older adults fall into a self-loathing mode. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could flip the script? We can! Let’s talk about ageism and change the narrative.

Change starts with each of us

The good news is that we possess the power to change the narrative.  Where do we begin? The easiest place to start is with yourself. Pay attention to the words and phrases you use. Do you project a negative stereotype on an age group by the things you say? Are you self-limiting by the way you see yourself?

In our communities, do we foster an Age-Friendly way of life by making sure they are accessible? Do we offer opportunities for people of all ages to thrive, prosper and mingle?

 

Links & Suggested reading

For a more in-depth look at Ageism. There is a lot of information out there, but this is a good start!

Thanks for Listening!

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Transcript

Let’s Talk About Ageism

Sage Aging Season 2, Episode 8

Guest Dr, Kathy Black

Pre-show

Liz Craven: [00:00:00] The Sage Aging podcast is brought to you by Polk, Elder Care Guide your guide to all things, senior care and resources. Find the 2021 guide in English and Spanish at polkeldercare.com. Welcome to the Sage aging podcast. I’m your host. Liz Craven, Sage Aging will connect you to information and resources. You need to navigate the aging and caregiving journey.

I’ll bring you education, inspiration, amazing industry guests, and caregivers spotlights to shed some light on the topics of aging. Information and resources can be so hard to find if you don’t know where to look, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as we chat. Are you ready? Hit subscribe now and let’s get started.

Welcome

Hello and welcome. Welcome to the Sage Aging podcast. This is episode eight of season two. Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten what you went in there for, or just drawn a blank on a word that you were trying to find, and then you chalked it up to a senior moment.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the server who is much younger than you, by the way, speaks to you as if you are a young child and called you sweetie or pumpkin? Yeah, I don’t like that either. Or how about this? Have you ever told someone or been told yourself, whoa, you look good for your age?

I’ll bet you have. I know I have. All of these scenarios have one thing in common. They’re all examples of ageism. Ageism is a really big topic to try to tackle in a podcast episode, but it’s extremely important. And it’s an important conversation to have because ageism affects every single age group in one way or another.

And the best way to combat it is to talk about it. We’re in for a treat today because joining me to have this important discussion is Dr. Kathy Black. For those of you who’ve been listening to the podcast from the beginning, that name should sound familiar because Kathy was the second-ever guest on the Sage Aging podcast.

And I am so absolutely thrilled to have her back. Not only is Dr. Black someone I’m honored to call my friend, but she’s an accomplished expert in the field of aging, a Professor of Aging Studies and Social Work at the University of South Florida, Sarasota Manatee campus. Dr. Black has more than 40 years of experience working globally in the field of aging as a practitioner, educator, and researcher.

My personal introduction to Dr. Black came via the Age-Friendly Communities initiative by way of AARP. And when I say that she is a fountain of information and inspiration, that is a gross understatement. You can learn more about Dr. Black and all that she does via the link to her bio in the blog post for season two, episode 8 at sageaging.com or in the show notes of your favorite podcast.

Welcome to the show, Kathy, thanks so much for joining me again.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:03:24] I am honored to be here, Liz, and I think the world of you and all the great work you joined. So just my class. Oh, so glad to have you a conversation with you is always something I look forward to because I always walk away feeling like I know something that I didn’t know before.

Liz Craven: [00:03:43] So I’m looking forward to this conversation on such an important topic, but before we get there, let’s learn a little bit about you.  You recently have had a daughter graduate from college? Haven’t you.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:03:57] Yes. My daughter just graduated from college in the college of education. She’s going to be a teacher. So quite honored with that.

And another daughter also got married right before the pandemic. And so I’ve been with my husband for over 40 years. So we’re, uh, we’re quite excited about that family stage cycle of life where we’re looking forward to the next phase, possibly grandparenting. You never know.

Liz Craven: [00:04:23] Hooray! I am too. I’m right there with you, Kathy. And I can’t wait for that part of life to begin. So you also have, I think this is a great background for our audience to know you also have a background in caregiving.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:04:40] Yes, I do. You know you did such a great job, Liz, you know, I graduated nursing school in 1979. So I’ve been in the field for a very long time and yes, I was a caregiver for my grandmother.

She lived with my husband and I for 10 years. She had dementia, depression, and we even moved out there. I went to graduate school and I’m from New York. And I went to grad school in Los Angeles at USC and UCLA. And we took her with us and she used to go to classes with me. She was very special. And so yes, I’ve had that personal experience as well as literally every other experience under the sun in the field of aging, you know, with so many years under the water.

Liz Craven: [00:05:22] And that is such an important part of life. I wonder sometimes those who don’t experience it, I kind of feel like they’re missing something amazing.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:05:32] Well, you know, Liz, I will tell you, Rosalyn Carter says that there are four kinds of people in the world, those who have provided care, those who are providing care, those who will provide care and those who will need care and that’s everybody, and it is just a human experience to care for each other.

And you, and I know that we wouldn’t change a thing. It’s one of the most privileged things. Yes. There’s a lot. Talk and work. And certainly, there’s a lot of stress and some days certainly are challenging, but you know, the upside is always more memorable and more important and really shapes our character.

As you know, there’s nothing, I wouldn’t do a thing over again. The only thing I guess, I just wish it was that I wish I had children when she was around, but that’s just the way it is.

Liz Craven: [00:06:20] Yep. And I agree with you a hundred percent. It changed me as a person. I am not the same person I was before providing care for our parents and changed for the better I might add.

What is ageism?

 [00:06:34] Well, let’s jump into our discussion because this is a biggie. I don’t even know where to begin. I guess the best place is at the beginning. Let’s define ageism. What is that? Ageism is described as thoughts and feelings and actions towards people of other age groups. Now, traditionally, we hear of younger and older age groups, but the truth is there are six generations alive.

And you mentioned something earlier, which was correct. Those ages and goes both. It’s not just age-ism towards older adults. Although many people immediately assume that older people can have ageist attitudes towards other age groups as well. And by the way, a very prominent form of ageism is older adults with disbelief towards other older adults.

But just getting back to, you know, the thinking. So the thinking or is really your, just your thoughts. So for example, somebody says something about an older person or they’re watching something, or they see an older person in. Where’s there. Oh, old people are cranky, something like that. Well, that’s a stereotype and you know, I think it’s fair to mention that we are not bowling.

Thinking or feeling or acting in any way towards anyone. All of this is really socially constructed. We learn it. And so thoughts are stereotypes and feelings lead to prejudice.  Feelings are really your feet. About other age groups and that starts to affect, you know, if you don’t like somebody or you just any sort of emotional reaction that really has nothing to do with another person, because you don’t know them, but if it’s simply on the basis of age yeah.

That’s prejudice. And then of course action. When some sort of activity is taken, it leads to discrimination of people are impacted from, you know, sort of the behavioral manifestations of how you feel. Or how your group or organization operates and because discrimination can occur in a lot of settings.

Liz Craven: [00:08:37] It’s a lot to take in. And frankly, when you start to learn about ageism, I know for me personally, anyway, A little bit shocked at some of my ages behaviors that I didn’t recognize before I started thinking about it in those terms. I think that’s pretty common for most people. Don’t you think?

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:09:01] Yeah. I, I love how you started the piece out by talking about those few examples. A big part of it is we don’t realize, but we are in effect perpetuating age-ism through some of those behaviors. Again, non-intentional. This is why we refer to it as implicit bias because we’re not even aware of it, but you’re right. It is considered one of the last eight isms to be addressed by society.

We have certainly trying tackle classism, right? CISM and certainly gender issues. I, sexism, ageism still remains to be sort of out there. And of course, you know, the intersection of all of them together is yet even greater than anyone, but it still is a very serious issue and it greatly affects people in in a lot of ways.

Liz Craven: [00:09:51] I agree. It affects me personally. And I think that I sometimes am the worst person who I don’t even know how to say it. I’m the one who inflicts it upon myself. It’s amazing to me, how many times I have to stop myself when I say, oh, I’m too old to do that, or I shouldn’t wear things like that. That’s for younger people or older women should have shorter hair.

All of these things that society has told us over the years, and as you start to step back and go, oh, wait a minute. Why not? I can have long hair if I want to. And absolutely. I can work out next to those young folks over there and perform just as well as they can. You know, it’s those limitations, self-limitations that we impose upon ourselves that we don’t realize are ageist.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:10:41] Well, you’re right, Liz, you picked it up from experience, from the media. It was reinforced and it basically becomes sort of a lens in which you see the world. And as you know, it really can have a lot of. Unnecessary effects when you really start to incorporate it. And it becomes a negative self-reflection. I mean, Liz, we don’t want people hating themselves because they look in the mirror and they’re older.

You know, this is one of the problems. As a matter of fact, we know that people who Harbor negative ageist beliefs live seven and a half years less than others. They have poor health. They’re more likely to have depression, more likely to engage in behavior that doesn’t, you know, because they have this negative trajectory of themselves as sort of fatalistic ag, you know, it’s all downhill from here and it leads to, you know, You know me from the Age-Friendly work.

This is about living fully and thriving every day, rather than dreading and hating yourself. And as you were talking, it made me think of an exercise that I do with the students. Now it might be a little too late to do it with your listeners because we’ve already been talking about it, but perhaps some of them can think about it.

So for example, I say to the students before they know anything about me or anything about the class, the content we’re going to discuss, I will just say to them, we’re associates. What does the word aging mean to you? And I, then I say to them, look, I don’t want you overthinking it. I want the first word that comes to your mind, Sigmund for referred toward association as a lot, like dreams, the Royal road to the unconscious, because if you don’t filter out through your mind, What you think I want to hear, or what might make you look like a, you know, a worldly person or whatever you will generally say.

So, you know, the students will say things like death or disease or grandparents or retirement or time, people will say whatever word comes to mind. And we go around very quickly. We don’t sell it. And then when we come back, we look at those words and we characterize really whether the word has a negative or positive or neutral connotation and the problem lives.

And it’s a real revelation for the problem is if your true, if that word that popped into your mind was negative. That means that that’s the self-dialogue you’re telling yourself every day when you think about aging. And so then you’re reinforcing, and of course, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And so people don’t know what they don’t know until it becomes a lot to their attention. Then they can start to have some really challenging where that came from. And, you know, I, one thing I will say too, as I’ve been teaching college now since the mid-1980s, and I will tell you, and I teach, you know, across the nation, I’ve taught internationally and I will tell you the good thing is that I am seeing more positive and neutral connotations.

Yes. I still see negative. You know you name it. I do. And what is often the case is people come to these attributions about aging in large part because of their personal experiences. And you know, what, if you had relatives where grandparents were happened to be ill or something, you know, of course, you can see how greatly that shaped you, but what’s important for people to realize is your personal experience does not characterize a whole…

There is an incredible diversity of aging. I mean, I, you know, have you gone to the gym lately Liz? There are people decades older than you that can walk a lot faster than you. Oh my goodness.

Liz Craven: [00:14:34] Yes. There’s a lady that I work out with or used to work out with before I start. Doing my home workouts and she was 30 years older than me and kicked my butt every single time.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:14:50] I remember Jack Lalane yeah. He was really a treasure for all. And, you know, if that’s not an indication of what we can be physically now, of course, genetics and lifestyle, then also broader experiences throughout your life can affect your musculature as you age. But, but clearly, he truly was something.

Liz Craven: [00:15:11] Well, I love that when as people we can shift our mindset, how differently. The world looks through that lens because it really makes your life experience very different when you start to rework those thoughts in your brain and not look at things that way anymore. I love it. I find it very exciting. And for me to look to the future is not

necessarily about slowing down, but shifting gears and making a change when it comes to retirement, not in slowing down as a person but creating new adventures. What do those new adventures look like? And it’s looking forward to that. That is so exciting where before. I kind of looked at that time of life as something that might be a little bit scary.

You know, what happens when I get to that age where you’ve already lived half of your life and you start looking at things in different terms.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:16:10] Well, you know, it was, you, you mentioned a moment ago. It’s actually quite a paradox because yes, well, many people are afraid to be judged of what, you know, how a 60-year-old woman should wear her hair or what is the proper attire?

So much of it is cosmetic and superficial. As you know, the interesting thing is that age actually is associated with, you know, we know that people go through psychological changes that really affect, for example, a sense of maintaining integrity and also a sense of generativity and concern about contributing to the world.

You know, in essence, Liz, we become aware one of the theories is socioemotional selectivity theory. From Carlston out of the University of California in San Francisco. And she basically said people choose to spend their time differently because there is this awareness that frankly was there’s only so many sunsets left so many sunrises.

And with the remaining time. You know, Liz, you know, you’ve heard of,  the Red Hat Society, there are women who, you know, they’re going to dress and do it. They don’t care what other safe, because God darn it this is their time. And this is, this is it. This is not a dry run. This is all you’ve got. And they’re going to live it out regardless of what others say.

Liz Craven: [00:17:34] And they are so fun if you’ve never had lunch next to a table of Red Hat Ladies, you’ve not lived because they are hilarious and fun.

Ageism affects all age groups

That’s really great. All right. So let’s. Gears and talk about, we touched on it a bit earlier, but ageism doesn’t just affect older adults. This is something that affects society as a whole. So let’s talk about who is affected by ageism. And, and what does that look like?

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:18:07] I mean, Liz, obviously it affects people to the extent that they accepted or give into it.

And so it’s obviously got an individual impact on some people mentally, physically social, but it’s so pervasive Liz that it affects literally every organization, every industry, and it affects literally every aspect of society. And I’ll just give you an example. When we were doing our H run, they work and we held some focus groups and we simply wanted to add.

Groups of older people about transportation anywhere they wanted to go. And they could’ve said anything they wanted. These are multiple, multiple groups and dozens and dozens of people participating and we would hear things about crossing lights, et cetera, so legitimate things. And in previous segments of those sessions, We asked about this ageism and people would say, no, there’s no, nothing, nothing.

And then when we got to driving transportation, people insisted that they never experienced where they don’t Harbor any agent’s beliefs, but what we heard loud and clear. Was older adults who honestly have a lot of strong feelings and ages beliefs about other older drivers. And I remember one guy, I mean, I it’s, you know, a little tongue in cheek.

It was, is actually a funny anecdote, but he said there this particular time, there was a recent story in the paper of an older adults who had some sort of medical accident while they were driving. And they went off the road and it had been recently in the news. And so this particular man. I said, yeah.

I’ll tell you that those nine-year-olds, I’ll tell you, you just don’t want to know, I’ll tell you, you just don’t know where you don’t know what’s going to happen. And then he said, now I’m 86, but I’ll tell you those 90-year-olds and Liz, Liz, what was very distressing about that was that we don’t live our safe driving abilities by about seven to 10.

So the question isn’t if this happens to us, but when, and we live in an auto-dependent world and just to hear the strong feelings, and by the way, Liz, I’ve got to tell you. I heard tremendous ages. And from older adults about younger drivers, they don’t know how to drive. I don’t know how they got like, I mean, so again, lists, it goes both ways.

And whenever we are judging someone that we don’t know them from asthma, uh, but we feel strongly about characteristics. And if there’s a feeling attached to it, it’s prejudice. If it’s just a thought, you know, they’re bad drivers, then it’s just a stereotype. But if it is attached to a feeling and many of us do move it forward in that way, it starts to affect everything.

And, you know, Liz, that was just one example. You know, again, we did hear loud and clear from our community and actually previous work years before that, I was very surprised. When we looked at ages of actually it was uncovered because we were looking at that time at dignity and independence and how people experienced that in the context of community life.

And what was very surprising to me was the number of people. Who felt that they were judged on the basis of gray hair, white hair, wrinkles, you know, mobility aids, a wheelchair, Walker, glasses, hearing aids, you name it. People felt invisible. People felt disrespected. It was very, very sad to hear everything.

Liz I’m a gerontologist. I knew all too well about ages and what really floored me was the extent to which people were experiencing it. I just very joyfully go about my day in and out of my community and everybody, whether they were the president of the United States to somebody sweeping the floor, I treat everybody the same with full respect and I, you know, it’s and I role model that, and those are part of the remedies Liz for changing.

And it is changing was, and it’s, and it will change more. But part of it is really role modeling and mom not being dismissive. You still see it everywhere. Also, even like the old movies, you’ll see it all the time, but you’ve got to just be aware of it and be the one to chart a new course.

Change starts with us

Liz Craven: [00:22:25] Absolutely. And we have to chart a new course by starting with kids when they’re young and helping them to see the value in their relationships with older adults, whether those are neighbors or grandparents, aunts, and uncles, just other family, friends, they need to understand how valuable those relationships are.

And furthermore, as communities, we need to focus on making sure that there are plenty of opportunities for intergenerational activities to happen, and that people gather together from different generations to enjoy one another.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:23:02] Liz, you couldn’t have said it better and you are right now. I’ll just tell you a little bit more to that. And families are a beautiful illustration because they are by definition multi-generational. And so of course, people love. Relatives up and down the age spectrum. But in terms of when we create intergenerational programming at its best was it’s intentional and it’s reciprocal. So that it’s not just, you know, when people think of intergenerational programming, they think of an older adult reading to a child and don’t get me wrong.

That’s terrific. And we want to see as much of that as possible, but it’s not just benefiting one generation. And by the way, that older adult is benefiting as well, but it’s also. On both sides. And we see that all over the place. I’ll give you another example, you know, uh, teach aging courses and increasing understanding.

And empathy is really one of the tools for remedying. As you said, the real future is infants children who are coming into this world with a blank state who are being socialized. And they’re seeing the diversity of aging. They’re seeing respect for all age groups. They’re seeing people out in public who have white hair and, you know, it’s so superficial that we’ve even gotten to this point, but it is a superficial aspect of our public life.

Um, but I think we’re changing that. But when I teach classes on aging, the students are asked to do reflection exercises, and I think one of the. You know, one of the ones there’s been many, because I do get a lot of people, for example, who are, you know, waitresses and in customer service. And they say to me, geez, I didn’t even understand that cognitive impairment or caregiving or hearing loss or vision issues until, you know, and now all the other waiters or waitresses are learning from me.

And I just, I love that, you know, but the one that really was touching for me was this one student who said that. It was a sociology of aging course where you cover all aspects of getting older. And he wrote that he, I can’t remember what job market he was in, but it was something that had to do with shift taking.

Apparently, there was this older guy and he would grab all the best job shifts of the week and everybody disliked him for it. And he said to me, you know, Kevin. It was your class though, that I realized that he needed to work because he still needed the money that he needed to go out in the daytime because he couldn’t drive and see, well, And that he needed to get out because he was widowed and alone, and this was his only socialization.

And it was that empathy and that understanding that creates and, you know, so again, lists, it goes both ways. I think everybody in these older age groups of which, where we are now in our life, I’m Obama and Liz, I’m not sure whether you’re a gen X. I think you’re, you’re a gen X you’re. Yeah. And Liz, by the way, millennials are going to start hitting 50 years old in 2030.

So, I mean, it’s an aging society, Liz, but, but the reality is, you know what, we remember what it was like being a parent of an infant and working in getting dinner on that table. And so, again, Compassionate understanding. And you know, when you think about it, Liz, the simple, basic respect for each other, this golden rule has so much not just for age-ism, but also for our civic health as well, and really for all of us.

So I hope we’re going to keep on marching those tunes and we’ll see where we get.

Liz Craven: [00:26:41] Very well said that is. Such truth and wow, what a banner day that must have been for you to have your student come back to you and tell you that story. That’s amazing. He really did take in what you were delivering in that class.

So as far as our personal responsibility to help combat ageism, one of the things I think is a simple way to begin a simple way to start focusing is the words that we speak. Are there terms that we should be staying away from if we want to try to make some changes personally,

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:27:22] Yes Liz, you know, a lot of work was done recently by a lot of major aging organizations, trying to understand why the public thinks about aging and literally shuts down and they just don’t want to talk about it.

Part of it is again, this, this ageism and these implicit bias, but a big part of it lives in part of the remedy to fight it is our language. And so for example, as you know, people don’t like this, but really adjectives to describe older adults need to be reconsidered words like senior and the preference is older adults.

Um, and really just a descriptor on the age and that’s it without any other adjective whenever we otherise and we label, we are reinforcing those views and it becomes easier to look at people as non-peak, as somebody else. When in fact we’re connected with aging and all the other generations are connected, just I, you know, movement and time was so we do encourage people and it takes a while to start to get used to doing this, but to say things.

Rather than seniors to say older adults, but also to say things like our friends and family versus older people, because the more we personalize and combined, the more inclusive we become.

Liz Craven: [00:28:46] That’s a great point. You know, that we publish an eldercare guide. And I mean, we named that thing 27 years ago. So now as we’ve moved forward in society, we’re thinking, wow, that’s just not the title.

We wish that it carried because of the word elder. So many times when we’re out talking to people in the community, they’ll say, elder, I’m not an elder. I don’t need that. And they’re right. It has nothing to do with their age. It has to do with resources and the things that people need at different stages in their life.

So to that end, we actually are making a shift next year and merging the name of the podcast with our guide. So it will be called Sage Aging, with L with eldercare guide, as a descriptor underneath. We feel like that’s probably the right direction to move. And we want people to be able to embrace the information and the content of this incredible resource without feeling strange, doing it.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:29:53] Again, Liz, remember it’s an identity that people don’t want to have because of the beliefs and feelings that they hold. You know, some people would have no problem being called Elder. There’s a lot of usage of that word in the most respectful ways and associated with wisdom and just pure a goodness.

But again, my sense is that the people are reacting. They don’t want to be identified with a term that they don’t see themselves.

Liz Craven: [00:30:22] And probably never will.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:30:23] And will resist that term always. Yes.

Liz Craven: [00:30:27] So it really is interesting all of the different ways that you can apply a new train of thought in trying to affect change within your own community.

So, as it relates to the community is ageism being addressed by policy and law around our country.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:30:45] Well, you know, Liz, when you look at every organization, I mean really in human resources, there’s a lot of opportunities to, you know, for example, we see in the workforce all along of ages and particularly when it comes to beliefs, And attitudes towards older adults, for example, and adapting tech technology.

And of course, our work worlds have become quite technologically savvy. Certainly people in their sixties and seventies today, they weren’t brought up on smartphones and all the computers, but capable of learning. They are. And there’s little recognition also, I think of all else that’s brought to the table.

So there’s a lot of work that needs to be done in our workforce. There is an Aging and Disability Act from, you know, from 1987, I believe it’s very difficult to prove, but it happens. Look Liz with the recession of 2008. And of course, after COVID, the numbers are really out there that people who have lost their job in their fifties and sixties, many of them are opting for.

Well, some of them were often for entrepreneurship and some of them are simply exiting the workforce earlier than many of them are taking advantage of early social security, et cetera, because the reality is ageism does play a role in many older adults. In fact, are being reminded on a resume. For example, do not give away your age because well, there’s, you know, again, on the hiring end, it may be because we don’t want to pay for the experience.

Ageism in that we want somebody who can work with our software and we don’t want to bother having to train it dinosaur if you will. So there’s all these pieces that are out there.

Liz Craven: [00:32:27] It’s pervasive. It really is. I know quite a number of people who opted for early retirement because the job hunt. Just impossible. It was, you know, bag groceries at the local grocery store or work at the movie theater. And there really wasn’t anything in between, you know, the either top end and you’re traveling all the time and have no life and you do that or you can bag groceries or retire. So it’s sad that that’s the way it is, but that’s the world we live in for now.

Yeah for now, not for all ways.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:33:04] No, there’s really a lot of work being done on really adapting those workforces. So that just because you can’t stand 12 hours on your feet anymore, or do some things, certainly adaptions can be made and all sorts of things are starting to happen again for those progressive employers who realized the value because literally, every

industry is aging out. I think it’s colliding right now, Liz, with these incredible labor shortages that we’re seeing now, of course, it’s due to, you know, a multitude of reasons, but literally, uh, you don’t, you can’t pick up the newspaper or turn on the news without seeing in another industry. Severely impacted by a worker shortage and long been in the works from literally from an aging society, because Liz, we knew for some time that many organizations and industries that hadn’t really taken the time to look at this, but when they did, they realized that, you know, X percentage of their workforce would be planning on retirement the next day and they are completely unprepared for that. And there needs to be some knowledge transfer planning and some, you know, some transitional planning, uh, but you know, let’s think about it then nurses, you can’t have all the older nurses retiring. And then of course that’s exactly what’s happening in some cases, but it’s true of literally because Liz, this is part of what you get with an aging society.

Everybody is getting older.

Liz Craven: [00:34:30] That is true. That is true. And baby boomers that entire generation has had such an effect on everything their entire life. It’s a wonderful thing, but I love the new attitudes too that I’m seeing lately. I am seeing a lot of progress in every place that I find myself.

So one notable place is on Clubhouse. I don’t know if you use that app or not, but the conversations are fascinating in some of the rooms in there, and it is people owning the stages of life that they’re in and encouraging and empowering each other. And some really productive conversations about how as a society, we view each other, regardless of age or race or religion or all of those things.

I am seeing so much more of that play out in social media. And in the places that we go to socialize, and it’s really encouraging where ageism can be such a negative topic. I believe that we’ve turned a corner that there’s so much awareness being placed on it, that we’re starting to see some of those positive outcomes from it.

So I appreciate you being here to have that conversation.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:35:49] Well, thank you so much. Yeah. This is a, this is the new, old age that we’re in my friend and we all, we are the.

Resources & Suggested Reading

Liz Craven: [00:35:57] Yes we are. And so we just need to make that path a really bright one. Well, before we go, do you have any favorite resources on this topic that you’d like to point our listeners to?

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:36:09] Well, you did mention the who global report on ageism that had recently come out and it’s really extraordinary. They spent multiple years and team of people looking at that. It is international. If, if the United States thinks they’re alone, they are not. It is. And as a matter of fact, Europe has even more agents, so, and they’re much older too, so very interesting.

And so I do like the, the who global report on ages. You also mentioned some of the concepts from reframing aging, which is part of the frameworks Institute has done the multi-year work on reframing aging. And they’re part of the solutions with language. And, you know, there’s, there’s some real leaders out there.

Some of, you know, Ashton Applewhite who wrote, wrote this chair rocks and she’s all over the place. And she’s got a Twitter account where she’s always responding to you is this ageist. So I like her work. And also there’s a researcher by the name of Margaret. Goulet who wrote a few books, uh, declining to decline and aged by culture.

And I really like her really contextual, historical, social, psychological anthropological you that helps us realize. Why we are, you know, judging ourselves from each other and really to examine some of those reasons. And, uh, you know, this is the first time in history. This many people of these age group has ever lived as long as we are.

And so we’re really chartering new territory.

Liz Craven: [00:37:47] Wow. That is a whole reading list for next month. I’ve got it. They’re all going on my list. I can’t wait. Thank you for that. Well, Kathy, thank you so much for being here with me today. I really do appreciate you and all of the wisdom that you have.

Dr. Kathy Black: [00:38:03] Well, it was my pleasure, Liz and I look forward to seeing you again.

Thanks for listening!

Liz Craven: [00:38:07] Absolutely. And thank all of you for listening. I know that we’re preaching to the choir here, but this is important stuff. And it starts with each of us taking inventory of our own personal habits and our own language. And as you consider those in your sphere, Influence. Are there people that you know who need to hear this message?

I think that probably all of us can say yes to that. And so I’d encourage you to share this episode. It’s season two episode eight of Sage aging with them be the catalyst that creates change. Together with some consistent effort, we will make a difference. If you haven’t already, please look for Sage aging on Instagram and Facebook, and also subscribe to the weekly newsletter and get this episode delivered to your inbox every single week.

It’s easy to do. Just go to sageaging.com and scroll to the bottom of that page and subscribe there. Well, that’ll do it for today. Thanks again for listening and we’ll talk real soon.

 

 

Liz Craven

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As I’ve been preparing to launch this podcast I’ve enjoyed revisiting stages of my own life and reflecting on how this topic became such a passion for me. While I’ve built my career on helping older adults and their families connect to needed education and resources, my connection to the aging and care process goes much deeper.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my own multi-generational family living together in one home. I was 4 or 5 when my grandmother moved into our home to help care for my sisters and I while our parents worked. Soon after, her father and grandfather moved in as well. We had 5 generations living under one roof! That was a beautifully chaotic adventure and knowing what I know now, I have so much respect for what my parents and grandmother did.

Fast forward to age 24. Newly married and pregnant with our first child, I spent several months with my in-laws to help care for my husband’s grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. Fast forward again to about 2009 – Wes and I have two teenagers about to head to college and his mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years later, my mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years after that Wes’ stepdad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his father is suffering from severe dementia. You can see where this is going right? For the better part of the last 10 years we have been the caregivers. We see it as an honor and privilege to have been able to do that for our parents.

The key to navigating our later years is being proactive about gathering information before we get there and staying engaged once we do. To be sage is to be wise. There is wisdom in taking the time to ask questions, seek solutions and know your options before the need arises.

Each week we will discuss relevant topics of aging with experts who can help us to understand and be better prepared for aging. We’ll also introduce you to some Sage Agers who are totally owning their journeys through life. No topic will be off limits and we will deliver open and honest conversation meant to educate and empower our listeners. Each episode will also be available in video and blog formats.

Whether you are proactively seeking to broaden your own knowledge, a caregiver for a loved one or a professional working in the aging care industry, this podcast is for you. We hope you will join us as we explore and celebrate Sage Aging.