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Here’s Something We Can Learn About Fighting Ageism

NextTribe fighting ageism

We are so impressed by what the upstanding citizens Down Under are accomplishing: The charmingly named Benevolent Society, Australia’s oldest charity, has set out to tackle age discrimination with their EveryAGE Counts program. Explaining that ageism is akin to racism and sexism and serves “a social and economic purpose of legitimizing and sustaining inequalities between groups–in this case between people of different ages,” they are out to nip it in the bud.

They’ve kicked off research into how ageism operates, surveying 1,400 people, conducting focus groups and reviewing literature. That’s the good news. The not so cheery flipside: They’ve found that ageism is growing, and these negative attitudes wind up being internalized by those of us at midlife and beyond, making us feel less capable and optimistic. But the society also learned that there are avenues to better imagery and models for aging–and that older people themselves play a critical role in crafting this. The report quotes one respondent’s comment, “You can’t give older people a voice. Older people need to use their own voice.”

The Benevolent Society plans to use the insights gleaned to create awareness campaigns and partnerships to chip away at the problem. Let’s take note.

Janet Siroto

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