September 2019 Round Table Discussion
On September 10th, we wrapped up our discussion on ageism and ableism with guest speaker Rev. Yvonne Wallace, licensed social worker and counselor.
We continued the conversation along the path of stereotypes and discussed several quotes about ageism that our speaker brought to our attention. Here a couple quotes and pointers that stood out to me:
“Ageism, like other expressions of prejudices, may have some foundation in reality. Statistically speaking, old people are more likely than young people to be mentally and physically impaired. But we slip into ageism when we make unwarranted generalizations about an entire category of people, most of whom do not conform to the stereotypes” (Macionis and Plummer 2012:418).
For instance, some persons see mental illness such Alzheimer’s and physical inabilities as old people sickness. We discussed the many young persons who are physically impaired as well as those who are mentally impaired.
“While youth and vitality are high valued commodities in a postindustrial society, life expectancies and prospects for good health are extended. Consequently, people can be expected to work longer if they choose. Moreover, with less emphasis on work and more on service and play, postindustrial societies may offer the elderly a vast array of meaningful social roles outside the world of work” (Thompson and Hickey 2012:339).
For example, places such as Walmart making it possible for retirees to be store greeters. Another example is partnership between schools and seniors in tutoring programs.
In terms of ableism, what stood out most to me is persons helping people with disabilities without asking if they need assistance (and of course waiting the affirmative response).
People who are disabled are not seeking pity from others. They are quite capable of handling their daily routine; however, as outsiders looking in, we sometimes see someone in pain that needs rescue.
Here are some takeaway points addressing Ageism and Ableism:
Respect each other – we all have different views and grow up in different generations. Showing mutual respect goes a long way.
We are all aging from birth – for instance, it gave me a peace of mind to hear a 26yr old comment that he was no longer 20 and cannot do the things he used to do. That was freeing for me.
Educate ourselves on disabilities.
Interact with people from different age groups and people with disabilities.
Watch our language – saying crazy is ableism and offensive to crazy people; saying dumb is offensive to mute people; saying walk is offensive to wheel-chair bound people.
Be aware of accessibility challenges
Ask, “How can I help?” – do not assume someone needs