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Public health messages and societal discourse during the COVID-19 pandemic have consistently indicated a higher morbidity and mortality risk for older people, particularly those with multiple health conditions. Older adults’ interpretations of pandemic messaging can shape their perceived vulnerability and behaviours. This study examined their perspectives on COVID-19 messaging. Eighteen community-dwelling older adults residing in Manitoba (Canada) participated in semi-structured telephone interviews between July and August 2020, a period of low COVID-19 cases within the province. Inductive thematic analysis was used to identify key themes that described participants’ processes of information interpretation when consuming pandemic-related messages, their emotional responses to messaging and consequent vulnerability, and the impacts of messaging on their everyday lives. Understanding how older adults have construed COVID-19 and pandemic-related messages, and the subsequent impact on their daily behaviours, is the first step towards shaping societal discourse and sets the stage for examining the pandemic’s long-term effects.
Low vision assistive devices are often positioned as enabling continued social participation and engagement by older adults in everyday activities; however, previous research suggests that the use of such technologies is restricted by various environmental factors. With little attention previously paid to the discursive environment, this critical discourse analysis critically examined how aging persons with vision loss and assistive technology (AT) were constructed and the occupational possibilities promoted and marginalized through technology use in six Canadian newspapers. In total, 7,289 articles were screened, 1,867 articles underwent a full-text review, and 51 articles were selected for data analysis. Results highlight four key discursive threads related to the framing of disability and AT, positioning of seniors with vision loss, and the ideals and occupations to be attained through AT, and point to the importance of re-configuring discourses addressing AT for seniors with vision loss to expand occupational possibilities and embrace collaborative design approaches.
The dystopian fiction genre within Western media has historically highlighted the flaws associated with societal attempts to achieve an unattainable ideal – or utopia. Through storytelling, these texts highlight the present issues in society, and among them, readers find deeply concerning messages about dehumanisation and oppression. The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins is uniquely placed within this larger genre due to the exceptional use of negative space; that is, the text communicates multiple meanings through what Collins includes and does not include. The following article engages in a deep reading of The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil through textual analysis to interpret and describe the message Collins communicates highlighting institutional ageism and bereavement. Consideration for the use of both negative and positive space within narrative construction reveals a story that encourages societal and social change to better care for the mentally ill, geriatric population.
Ageism is pervasive and socially normalized, and population aging has created a need to understand how views of aging and of older people, typically considered to be people over the age of 65, can be improved. This study sought to understand how undergraduate students’ attitudes towards older adults and the aging process may be influenced after completing a typical, lecture-based undergraduate course on aging that lacked service-learning components. Two undergraduate student cohorts (n = 40) at two Canadian universities participated in semi-structured focus groups/interviews, describing how the course may have impacted their perceptions of the aging process and of older adults. An iterative collaborative qualitative analysis demonstrated that course content stimulated a deeper understanding of the aging process, prompting a reduction in and increased awareness of ageism, and enhanced personal connection with aging, ultimately facilitating the development of an age-conscious student. Lecture-based courses focused on aging may be sufficient to facilitate positive attitude change among undergraduate students towards older adults and the aging process.
More and more studies indicate that leisure plays a fundamental role in active ageing. Our study describes the current leisure patterns of older adults, comparing them with other age groups. Consequently, 445 adults, stratified by age (young, middle-aged and older adults), were selected and subsequently administered a set of tests. The results indicate that older people claim having more time for their leisure activities; however, the diversity of activities performed is lower, showing a negative gradient based on age. The leisure patterns of older people reflect a predominance of passive leisure, little cultural leisure time and moderate levels of social and physical leisure activities. Older people’s leisure seems to be influenced by ageist stereotypes and attribution biases. Our findings imply that these results could be used to design and implement programs aimed at promoting leisure styles that contribute to increase active ageing.
Using pre- and post-visit reflection papers from a third-year undergraduate leisure and aging course, this paper describes the ways in which an intergenerational service-learning project fostered greater understanding of aging, long-term care (LTC) homes and the people who reside in them. Partnering with a LTC home in the Niagara Region of Ontario, 50 students gathered first-hand life stories from older adults over a period of 5 weeks. In pairs, students considered course content in relation to stories of life transitions they have yet to experience and reflected on generational similarities and differences. The overall project incorporated biography and photography-based assignments in order to create individual narratives for each participant in the project. Supplementary coursework enabled students to develop skills related to creative representation of the stories (e.g., lessons on photography and biography writing). This intergenerational project culminated with an exhibit of students’ work at the end of the term, attended by our storytellers, their families and friends as well as staff at the home. In pre- and post-visit reflection assignments, students described how their experiences disrupted assumptions they held about older adults, LTC homes and the experience of aging.
Courts conceptualize and construct the phenomenon of consumer rights violations against older people in different ways. This qualitative analysis of court decisions explores the meanings that Israeli courts have attributed to the fact that the victim was an older consumer. Specific objectives include determining whether existing consumer protections for older consumers are effective, how the relevant provisions of consumer protection law are expressed in application of case law, and how courts structure the issue in their rulings. Analysis has revealed a tension between two judicial approaches: assumption of older consumers as inherently vulnerable and meriting special-class protection, versus application of general consumer protection law attending to actual plaintiffs’ or defendants’ characteristics. Critical reading of the judgments leads to construction and suggestion of a tiered approach to adjudicating consumer protection cases that protects the vulnerable older consumer without falling into a trap of unwarranted ageism.
Ageism is a widely used term that is not (yet) well understood. We propose a redefinition of ageism and to separate it from ableism. We believe this to be important as remedies may depend on whether someone is experiencing ageism or ableism. While focusing the discussion on older workers as a sub-group of older people who (can) experience ageism, we assess the usefulness of critical (feminist) disability studies for ageism research. We hope that redefining ageism and analytically separating it from ableism (without suggesting that both concepts should be studied independently from one another) will provide guidance for researchers who study ageism and will allow for more specific policy guidance on how to solve difficulties experienced by older workers.
Self-ageism has a significant negative impact on older people's ageing experiences and health outcomes. Despite ample evidence on cross-cultural ageism, studies have rarely looked into the way cultural contexts affect self-ageism. In this article, we compare expressions of self-ageism and its possible predictors across four European countries based on two questionnaires in a study sample of 2,494 individuals aged 55 and older. We explore how predictors of self-ageism are moderated by cultural values in a comparative fixed-effects regression model. We empirically show that similarly to ageism, self-ageism is not present in the same way and to the same extent in every country. Moreover, the level to which cultures value hierarchy and intellectual autonomy significantly moderates the association between self-ageism and individual predictors of self-ageism. Our study adds to the small existing body of work on self-ageism by confirming empirically that certain expressions of self-ageism and individual predictors are susceptible to change in different cultural contexts. Our research results suggest that self-ageism interventions may benefit from a culturally sensitive approach and imply that more culturally diverse comparisons of self-ageism are necessary to figure out fitting ways to reduce self-ageism.
The aim of this study was to explore old persons’ experiences of positive solitude (PS) and the gaps between their experience and professional caregivers’ perceptions of older adults’ experiences of PS. Moreover, we attempt to understand the basic mechanism that may explain these gaps.
A qualitative method was used.
Fourty-one older adults (aged 65–103 years) and 2 groups of professionals: 16 occupational therapists with a specialization in gerontology and 41 gerontology graduate students from other occupations.
Four open-ended questions about PS were asked. The older adults described their views on PS and experiences during solitude. The two caregiver groups, who are familiar with older adults, answered the questions twice, referring once to themselves and once to older adults in general.
A. Gaps exist between old peoples’ and caregivers’ perceptions and experience of PS. B. The caregivers believe that older adults cannot easily enjoy PS. C. Caregivers believe that there are certain preconditions for older adults’ experience of PS. D. Differences in attitude toward older adults between the caregiver groups were found.
Although old people occasionally prefer PS, culture and age bias may prevent caregivers from accepting older adults’ need for PS. Practical implications include the need to raise awareness of age bias among caregiving staff, in particular regarding their acceptance of older adults’ PS experiences. This may improve the staff’s willingness to enable older adults to experience PS without interruption.
The subjective experience of ageism among older men has received little research attention. This study examines older Canadian men's experiences with and perceptions of ageism during interactions with physicians. In-depth, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 21 men aged 55 years and over. The findings indicate a seeming lack of awareness of ageism among many, and many did not believe ageism was likely to occur during patient–physician interaction. Negative stereotyping of older patients was common. A large majority of the participants reported that they had not personally experienced ageism during a medical encounter, nor were they concerned about it. Numerous rationales were proffered as explanations of why a particular participant had not experienced ageism and who was more likely to be a target.
Public libraries are community hubs that can both create opportunities and address challenges often associated with later life and population aging. Using a thematic analysis of 18 in-depth interviews with public librarians, this study investigates common practices and challenges experienced while developing programs for older adults. This analysis is augmented by an environmental scan of older-adult programming offered in member libraries of the Canadian Urban Library Council (CULC). Results indicate that public librarians leverage community partnerships and staff training to develop programs that foster digital, financial, language, and health literacy and create opportunities for both intergenerational and peer social connection. At the same time, they face challenges related to limited space, budgets, and staff capacity, difficulty meeting the extensive and often conflicting interests of various groups within the library, and marketing programming to older adults. Findings indicate that public libraries may be key players in mitigating challenges often associated with having an aging population, and indeed highlight the many benefits of valuing and providing services to this population.
This conclusion sums up the book and how the chapters interrelate. The importance of respectful language is discussed, as a human rights issue. Prejudice is talked about as a problem that we will all face, hence the need for compassion. We close by exploring how offensive language can be at the root of social problems, but on the other hand, how it can also unite people and foster understanding, tolerance, and equality.
This chapter explores ageism and prejudice against age as revealed in our language. We look at childism/adultism, middle age, and intergenerational battles of Boomers vs. Millennials. We discuss the way we talk about growing older. We investigate stereotypes and negative attitudes toward age and ageing, ageism in the workplace, and consider ageism as an intersectional form of discrimination that will ultimately affect us all.
The World Health Organization defines ageism as “stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination towards people based on their age” (WHO, 2018). Ageist beliefs and stereotypes are expressed in cultural and media representations, institutional and governmental policies, and social practices that may limit people’s access to the resources necessary to lead healthy and productive lives, such as employment opportunities, housing choices, and health services. Under these circumstances, older persons are more vulnerable to social exclusion, political disempowerment, income insecurity, financial exploitation, homelessness, violence, and abuse leading to human rights violations such as the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. This chapter examines how these violations impact older persons from a social psychological perspective through a selective literature review focused on ageism issues, including the impact of ageism on how old age is defined as a social category in various societies; how older persons are portrayed in culture and media; and how they are differently perceived and treated as migrants, patients, and workers. Possible best practices to reduce or eliminate ageism globally are also discussed.
This chapter discusses what are apt comparisons between ages. It notes the social forces compelling change, in particular increased life expectancy, and considers how these are changing our views about age equality. It reviews the way age discrimination laws work and considers the proposals for new laws.
I'm not a racist, but… You look good, for your age… She was asking for it… You're crazy… That's so gay… Have you ever wondered why certain language has the power to offend? It is often difficult to recognize the veiled racism, sexism, ageism (and other –isms) that hide in our everyday discourse. This book sheds light on the derogatory phrases, insults, slurs, stereotypes, tropes and more that make up linguistic discrimination. Each chapter addresses a different area of prejudice: race and ethnicity; gender identity; sexuality; religion; health and disability; physical appearance; and age. Drawing on hot button topics and real-life case studies, and delving into the history of offensive terms, a vivid picture of modern discrimination in language emerges. By identifying offensive language, both overt and hidden, past and present, we uncover vast amounts about our own attitudes, beliefs and values and reveal exactly how and why words can offend.
In this paper, we explore ageist depictions of both young and older people as they emerge from discourses addressing ‘other people's’ digital media usage practices. We carried out eight focus groups (four with teenagers, four with people aged 65 or older) in two southern European cities (Rome and Barcelona). By negotiating the affordances and constraints of (digital) tools and platforms, people develop their own usage norms and strategies, which might – or might not – be intersubjectively shared. Discourses surrounding usage practices and norms tend to refer to what people understand as an appropriate way of using digital platforms: these discourses proved to be powerful triggers for expressing ageist stereotypes; ‘the others’ were depicted, by both teenage and older participants, as adopting inappropriate usage practices (with regard to content, form, skills and adherence to social norms). These reflections proved to have broader implications on how other age cohorts are perceived: participants tended to take discourses on digital media usage as an opportunity for making generalised judgements about ‘the others’, which address their manners, as well as their attitude towards communication and social life. Inter-group discrimination processes and ageist stereotypes play a major role in shaping the strong moralistic and patronising judgements expressed by older and younger participants towards ‘the other’ age cohort.
What explains ageism towards older people? Several answers exist in the literature, but it is still unclear whether the ageism people express has been altered by motivational forces (i.e. factors which carry or enact motivation, leading to action or thought) or whether an original, primal ageism can be expressed directly. Investigating populations of young adults (45 and younger), this article suggests that value systems are sources of internal and external motivational forces which work to either suppress or to justify both subtle and blatant forms of ageism. It was hypothesised that, at the individual level, values precede any threat perception and negative stereotypical beliefs associated with older people, leading to forms of ageism which match the motivational goals of a person's values. It was further expected that, at the cultural level, values represent the climate in which people express ageist beliefs. It was found that self-transcendence values can bypass the negative effects of threat perception and negative stereotypes, resulting in less-negative forms of ageism. A sample comprising a clear majority of hierarchical, non-Western cultures showed that self-enhancement values also contributed motivational strength for the suppression of blatant ageism. A practical implication of these findings is the possibility of further developing existing strategies of combating ageism by working to effect appropriate long-term changes in the values of young adults.
Previous studies suggest that intergroup contact has a positive effect on older workers’ perception of ageism and satisfaction. This study aims at assessing such relationships amongst Canadian younger workers. Precisely, in light of the intergroup contact theory (ICT), it was first hypothesized that a positive perception of intergenerational workplace climate (IWC) and knowledge sharing practices (KSP) increase younger workers’ awareness of ageist behaviors targeting older peers. Second, it was hypothesized that such awareness has a positive effect on young workers’ level of satisfaction. Relying on a cross-sectional design composed of 612 participants, path analysis was conducted. Findings suggest that whereas KSP increases younger workers’ awareness of ageist behaviors towards older workers, this is not the case for IWC. On the other hand, both IWC and KSP have a direct and positive impact on younger workers’ level of satisfaction. Theoretical and practical implications of findings are discussed.