The Year 2012 Is the Time to Rally against Ageism

By Blancato, Robert | Aging Today, March/April 2012 | Go to article overview

The Year 2012 Is the Time to Rally against Ageism


Blancato, Robert, Aging Today


Ageism in America is as real as the rapid aging of our nation. It is manifested across the societal mainstream- from healthcare settings to the workplace, from media to the marketplace. But the sad reality is that while we as a nation have made efforts to combat racism and sexism, our commitment to combating ageism lags far behind.

It is an honor to be associated with this In Focus section of Aging Today because of the topic, and the opportunity to again pay tribute to late legend and mentor Dr. Robert Butler. That he coined the word ageism more than 40 years ago demonstrated that he was a visionary, but his legacy will be more enduring if we confront ageism and offer constructive solutions to ameliorate it.

Ageism Remains Rampant

Ageism in 2012 is shaping up to be as potent a problem as it ever has been. If we rely on Dr. Butler's 2005 International Longevity Center Report Card on Ageism, we find little, if any, progress from the report's conclusion that ageism is "deeply embedded and widespread in American society."

The report cited several categories where age discrimination is strikingly evident: elder abuse; healthcare discrimination; discrimination in nursing homes; discrimination in emergency services; workplace discrimination; discrimination in the media; and discrimination in marketing.

Others contributing to this In Focus section will address ageism in healthcare (Daniel Perry, page 1), the workplace (Laurie McCann on page 9) and media and marketing (Jake Harwood on page 9). But it's the first of these categories- elder abuse- that may provide the best example of ageism, and one of the easier opportunities for a remedy.

Elder abuse (see Marie-Therese Connolly's story, left) is rampant and impacts the lives of more than 10 percent of those older than 60. Victims of elder financial abuse lose close to $3 billion a year, according to a 2011 study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (www.metlife.com/ mmi/research/elder-financial-abuse.html #key%20findings).

Almost 40 years ago when the issue of child abuse exploded in the national consciousness, legislation was passed and funded by Congress. As a result we spend upward of $9 billion a year to prevent child abuse. More than 10 years later, when the issue of domestic violence emerged, legislation was passed, and today the Violence Against Women Act is funded at around $600 million per year.

It took more than 30 years from when the first congressional hearings were held on elder abuse to pass federal legislation- the landmark 2010 Elder Justice Act (EJA). It was an important achievement, but it's not worth much unless funds to implement its provisions are provided. …

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The Year 2012 Is the Time to Rally against Ageism
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