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Snapshot of learning: Tackling ageism – one step at a time

Summary of the action taken

I am taking action as an individual and with others to take every opportunity to shine a light on the detrimental effects of ageism.

Details of what happened

I’ve thought quite a lot about ageism and perhaps as we age we think about it more. That may be because we are able to reflect about it more with a longer view over many years.
I do know it is so embedded in society that it will take a huge heave over a long time period to remove it completely. We all appear to be part of it, older people themselves often their own worst enemies. I see them often on social media and challenge when I think it may help people view things in a different way. It’s not so easy as it can bring quite a lot of further negative comment. I find it best if I add ‘perhaps’ or ‘possibly’ in my response.
Greetings cards are another well-worn avenue of ageist remarks all meant to be amusing. Last year along with another person I talked to undergraduates studying to become social workers about ageism and the cards we took opened up some discussion. Several students thought their parents and grandparents would laugh at the cards. I think this demonstrated just how entrenched this is in society.
It's rife in advertising too. Marketing has realised that there are a lot of older people and have begun to focus more on this potentially lucrative market. Advertising underwear, ‘designed by a 70-year-old woman’, is an example.
Sometimes actions happen serendipitously. As part of an older people’s organisation, I help produce an eBulletin www.elderscouncil.org.uk. It’s a useful place to drop in items about ageism among a lot of other pieces of interesting information. It’s also a constant reminder to me to look at what I write and speak.

Outcome and thoughts about why things turned out the way they did

I hope that by continuously drawing attention to the impact of ageism, I am playing my part in addressing the issue and raising people’s awareness of the negative impact it has on all our lives.

Things you would do differently or do again in similar circumstances

I will continue to take the opportunities I have to raise awareness about ageism. I hope others will join me in using the opportunities they have to do the same.

Submitted by

Mary Nicholls

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