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We would do both ourselves and the planet a favor, she observes, if we reject those values for more humanitarian and communitarian ones. When an acoustic neuroma destroyed most of the hearing in one ear, I caught myself thinking, “At least it’s sexy brain-tumor-deafness, not sad old-person deafness”—making me both ageist and ableist. It connects us empathically with our future selves. “It is just another essential fact to include about the subjects we cover. Why am I writing about these young victims of police brutality in a newsletter about ageism? because cognitive decline is so profoundly stigmatized. Welcome back. There has to be a shift in national priorities if we want to improve the quality of our longer lives. “That’s the nature of prejudice: always ignorant, usually hostile. At the heart of the matter is a deeper one: why do we avoid discussing and dealing compassionately with cognitive decline? “Age is often relevant to certain stories as well. As the article pointed out, “declining male senators, including Strom Thurmond, of South Carolina, and Robert Byrd, of West Virginia, were widely known by the end of their careers to be non-compos mentis.” Is Feinstein facing harsher criticism because of her gender? Because achieving equal rights for everyone—everyone!—means ending White Supremacy. [i] More than 120,000 long-term care workers and residents have died, “This Is Why Nursing Homes Failed So Badly,” by E. Tammy Kim, New York Times, Dec 31, 2020, [ii] Less than 1% of America’s population lives in long-term care facilities, The COVID Tracking Project, Atlantic magazine, Dec 31, 2020, https://covidtracking.com/data/long-term-care, “More Than 100,000 U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Are Linked to Nursing Homes,” New York Times, Dec 4, 2020 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-nursing-homes.html, [iii] Residents are now dying at three times the rate they did in July. “a prejudice against our own future selves, as Todd Nelson and many other age scholars have observed, and has the dubious distinction of being the only “ism” related to a universal condition. Because achieving equal rights for everyone—everyone!—means ending White Supremacy. The intersection of ageism and ableism is where many of our darkest fears reside. Medicare exhausted!” and “We can’t afford longevity.”. So how come so many of us unthinkingly assume that depression, diapers, and dementia lie ahead? . The younger vote went to the Remain camp in Thursday’s fateful referendum, while older voters opted for Leave. It’s a big ask, but we cannot dismantle ageism without dismantling ableism, and racism, and sexism and all the rest, because  these systems reinforce and depend on each other. While I normally love SNL, I have to call this one out. Search our Blog: Friday, November 3, 2017. It’s also the sustainable, ethical, and joyful path, and I’m glad to be on it. “I hear regularly from people who’ve begun to reject age shame that they instantly feel relieved and empowered. This path is messier and harder and longer. “The kids drive me crazy asking how old I am,” said 80-year-old Detroit schoolteacher Penny Kyle. “Don’t worry, it will ‘only’ infect the old and the ill.”. But this has no bearing on our worth and how we should be treated. It acknowledges the inevitability of oldness while relegating it to the future — albeit at an ever-smaller remove. It must be done if we are to take upon ourselves the entirety of our human state.”. It would enforce the Elder Justice Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act”(237). In reading Ashton Applewhite’s, This Chair Rocks: ... Applewhite is probably the leading activist fighting ageism. After a back-and-forth, he decided to stop identifying with a specific age. That culture has to change, because the current climate of secrecy and complicity is a problem for everyone. Author and activist Ashton Applewhite believed them too until she realized where this prejudice comes from and the damage it does. It is not inevitable. That sets me apart from the aspirational supergeezers — people who want to be part of the smattering of octogenarian CEOs, nonagenarian performers and centenarian diploma-earners. More than 120,000 long-term care workers and residents have died since the pandemic began[i]. The necessary alternative—imperative, even—is to educate ourselves about cognitive decline, and learn to talk about it openly and accurately. We are not special. That’s what’s going on when people grumble about lazy Millennials or complain that “kids are like that”(9). But those worries are hugely out of proportion to reality, and the dread itself puts us at higher risk. Can we accept and embrace that people at all ages are worthy of recognition and respect? I want to be age queer by rejecting not my age but the fixed meanings that people assign to it. And when people aren’t visible, whether ghettoized or homebound, whether by choice or reluctantly, so are the issues that affect them”(192). A society that doesn’t value its older and disabled members doesn’t value the people who care for us. She also notes the values most admired in the industrialized world — high personal and economic productivity — do little to help us age. It means thoughtful peeks through the periscope of an open mind at the terrain we will someday inhabit. Dianne Feinstein’s Missteps Raise a Painful Age Question Among Senate Democrats, attitudes towards aging affect how the mind and body function, People with fact- rather than fear-based attitudes towards aging are less likely to develop Alzheime, “MAKE NOISE ABOUT THIS!” – Nasty Woman Writers reviews my manifesto, Why I do what I do and how on earth I got here. It means working against the human tendency to underestimate how much we’ll change in the future. Indignity. “a prejudice against our own future selves, as Todd Nelson and many other age scholars have observed, and has the dubious distinction of being the only “ism” related to a universal condition. Speak up, too, for older people with disabilities, who have much to learn from younger pwd about adapting, identity, and pride. “If we can’t picture ourselves teaching, laughing, loving and contributing to society when we’re 90 and 100, then good luck is about the only thing that will get us there,” she writes. That means we make them up, and they change over time. Reprinted with the permission of Celadon Books, a division of Macmillan Publishing, LLC. A mandate of the disability justice movement is to stand in solidarity with other marginalized groups, as the Black Panthers did in 1977 by bringing supplies and cooked meals to the over 100 disabled protesters who occupied the San Francisco H.E.W offices for almost a month, and as the Black Lives Matter movement is doing now by supporting the rights of transgender and Indigenous people. My attitude also sets me apart from an awful lot of other “aging experts” who are invested in the opposite: a deficit model of aging (helping the frail and needy age). She blogs at ThisChairRocks.com, and has written for Harper’s, the Guardian, and The New York Times. Had Feinstein not run for reelection, she could be going through this difficult transition out of the public eye. Who works in care homes? It is also the work of a lifetime and must be engaged in with others. Currently, I blog at This Chair Rocks, speak widely and am the voice of Yo, Is This Ageist?. That’s why I’m delighted to announce the release of Ageist? They’re in the grips of a cruel paradox: They aspire to grow old yet they dread the prospect. It’s a big ask, but we cannot dismantle ageism without dismantling ableism, and racism, and sexism and all the rest, because  these systems reinforce and depend on each other. Baum, Caroline. In 2008, I heard geriatrician Joanne Lynn describe herself as an Old Person in Training, and I’ve been one ever since. Who lives in care homes? People with disabilities are as ageist as everyone else. Both olders and people with disabilities encounter discrimination, and prejudice. It’s lazy, though, and utterly unreliable, and arguably impertinent. Envisioning her won’t make it happen, but I sure can’t get there without the aspiration. Population aging is a permanent, global, demographic trend. Just as realizing the potential of the disability justice movement means joining forces with age activists, being anti-ageist means being anti-ableist. When we use our privilege to create circumstances that enable everyone to participate and contribute, on the other hand, we all benefit. “Older Adults at greater risk of requiring hospitalization or dying if diagnosed with COVID-19,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dec 13, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-... [v] Yet Americans with intellectual disabilities, “COVID-19 Infections And Deaths Are Higher Among Those With Intellectual Disabilities,” by Joseph Shapiro, National Public Radio, June 9, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/06/09/872401607/covid-19-infections-and-deaths-are-higher-among-those-with-intellectual-disabili, [vi] a job more deadly than logging or deep-sea fishing, “How Many of These 68,000 Deaths Could Have Been Avoided?” New York Times Editorial Board, Sept 5, 2020 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/05/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-nursing-homes-deaths.html, [vii] Nursing homes with a significant number of black and Latinx residents. The consensus from people over 80 is that young people worry way too much about getting old, so the earlier we make this imaginative leap, the better. Reprinted with the permission of Celadon Books, a division of Macmillan Publishing, LLC. “That’s the nature of prejudice: always ignorant, usually hostile. “A social compact for longer lives would opt for integration over age apartheid, in the form of affordable, multi-generational housing, adequate and accessible public transportation, and universal compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. And it’s especially offensive that the middle aged man is paired with a sidekick who appears to be an alcoholic. Age becomes just another attribute, like being a good speller or a Filipino or a Cubs fan. Let’s acknowledge the need for helping hands, and reach for them gratefully and without shame”(180). In a world increasingly segregated by race and class as well as by age, reaching over those divisions to acknowledge the one path we’ll all travel is a radical act. Applewhite provides numerous practical ways we can respond to questions and comments we receive and overhear about age, as well as edit the ones we ask others. It means thoughtful peeks through the periscope of an open mind at the terrain we will someday inhabit. Activism is intersectional too. It opts for purpose and intent over dread and denial. Ageism, like other forms of discrimination, becomes more noticeable and intolerable once it’s painstakingly brought to one’s attention. Applewhite, Ashton. She blogs at This Chair Rocks, speaks widely around the world, has written for … And when people aren’t visible, whether ghettoized or homebound, whether by choice or reluctantly, so are the issues that affect them”(192). The consensus from people over 80 is that young people worry way too much about getting old, so the earlier we make this imaginative leap, the better. As author Ashton Applewhite might have predicted, however, there are fault lines newly highlighted along generational divides, as well as in so many other sectors of the British population.. She has done the heavy lifting, exposing the many facets of this prejudice and for that I am very grateful. Join anti-ageism activist Ashton Applewhite, facilitator extraordinaire Virginia Hamilton, and MEA’s founder Chip Conley to explore the internal and external forces that shape growing older in America. Applewhite has been recognized by The New York Times, National Public Radio, the New Yorker, and the American Society on Aging as an expert on ageism. Also, since she covers so much territory in This Chair Rocks, I was forced to select only a handful of her illuminations and arguments, so do yourself a very serious favor and read the book! Michael Brown was 18. Nursing homes with a significant number of black and Latinx residents have been twice as likely to be hit as homes whose populations are overwhelmingly white—no matter where they are, how big they are, or how they’re rated. Lively, funny, and deeply researched, her book This Chair Rocks (Celadon Books, 2019) traces her journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-aging radical, and in the process debunks myth after myth about late life. Maybe that’s because the unknown breeds unease or because predicting the future is more difficult than reminiscing or because the task holds less appeal in a youth-centric society. Precisely what Senator Feinstein now faces—because of her own denial, because her friends and colleagues colluded in that denial, and because an ageist and ableist culture gives them cover. London’s Groucho Club was founded as “an antidote to stuffy gentlemen’s clubs,” and when they invited me to be their book club’s featured author this month, I said you bet. Then we can see that ageism isn’t in anyone’s best interest, and we can call and work for change. After COVID struck, there was a lot of hand-wringing, as there always is around anything age-related, with a lot of people saying the pandemic is making ageism and ableism worse. When I experience this, I turn it around to an appreciation of this stage of the life span, one where there is no shortage of ambition, joy, and beauty, if we chose to see it, as we do in the other phases of life. Some twenty percent of the population escapes cognitive decline entirely; we all know some of those sharp nonagenarians. They spend a lot of energy sustaining the illusion that the old are somehow not us. We’re all Old People in Training, whether we know it yet or not, and our numbers will swell as we reject demeaning stereotypes and claim our aging selves. The population is aging, we are living longer and healthier lives, and yet, ageism remains the last socially sanctioned bias. The information feels foundational, but it isn’t. Baum, Caroline. A final point I want to highlight is a hobgoblin that shows up in so many of our social constructs: the big ol’ binary. Ashton Applewhite once held these beliefs too until she realized where this prejudice comes from and the damage it does. But competence is the issue, not age, or gender. Subscribe here. There is nowhere along the age span where you were a better, more valuable person than you are now. Person first, as retired psychotherapist Bill Krakauer discovered when he started taking acting classes. Some people are born with this awareness, and so have longer to develop the capacities that will serve them well later in life, capacities such as the ability to keep making new friends, to value internal resources, and to be able to let go, says writer and medical sociologist Anne Karpf. Let’s call these programs what they are – all-age friendly. Take the journalistic convention of including ages in newspaper stories. And it’s not going away: we are living longer than ever before. For a number of reasons, none of which are healthy, we’re a society hell-bent on segregation which hinders our quality of life in so many ways. Becoming an Old Person in Training makes it easier to think critically about what age means in this society and the forces at work behind depictions of older people as useless and pathetic. It robs the caricatures of crone and geezer of their power and frees us to become our full — our ageful — selves. Take the next step and join The Radical Age Movement. Applewhite, armed with research and in the company of scholars, bust other myths too, such as: “Society will be swamped by all these old people!” and “An older population will bog everyone else down in caring for the sick and the frail,” and “Olders are a drag on the economy,” and “One generation benefits at the expense of another,” and “Social security bankrupted! It’s incumbent on each of us to recognize and reject “the incessant barrage of messages from every quarter that consigns the no-longer-young to the margins of society. Population aging is a permanent, global, demographic trend. It's not the passage of time that makes it so hard to get older. In her book A Long Bright Future: An Action Plan for a Lifetime of Happiness, Health, and Financial Security, psychologist Laura Carstensen describes the importance of generating realistic, humane visions of our future selves — what we’ll want to be doing and be capable of — and embarking on the tasks and changes and sacrifices that will get us there. Do we know things now we didn’t know then? This thoughtful review, the kind every writer dreams of, was written by Maria Dantino. Let’s get one thing straight, aging not a bad thing! One out of four American adults has some type of disability, Black Panthers did in 1977 by bringing supplies and cooked meals to the over 100 disabled protesters who occupied the San Francisco H.E.W offices for almost a month, We’re all Old People in Training, whether we know it yet or not, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, A short riff on hearing impairment, face masks, and being a good ally, Breonna Taylor, a Black EMT, was murdered in her bed at 26 years old. Where anti-ageism activist Ashton Applewhite has been thinking out loud for over a decade; searchable by topic. Only the well-off can pursue this goal, which segregates us, sets us up to fail, and fills us with needless dread. Different kinds of discrimination – including racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, and homophobia – interact, creating layers of oppression in the lives of individuals and groups. So, here’s yet another thought experiment: How about learning from the disability rights movement and conceiving of ourselves as “people with age” instead of as X- or Y-year-olds? This is especially the case if they are women, people of color, and/or undocumented immigrants. The sooner this lifelong process is stripped of reflexive dread, the better equipped we are to benefit from the countless ways in which it can enrich us. “I hear regularly from people who’ve begun to reject age shame that they instantly feel relieved and empowered. Being anti-ageist also means being anti-racist, which right now means supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Last Christmas one of my sisters gave me a copy of the book This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, by Ashton Applewhite. “So here are these bunch of kids and they see an old guy, right? Remember the early messaging about the virus? But it is real, which makes it easier to tackle than something nonexistent: the imaginary failings which these systems created and need us to believe in. Because systemic racism stands between so many black and brown people and long life itself. What are we waiting for? Her Ted Talk has almost a 1.5 million views. That’s why my new talk, Still Kicking: Confronting Ageism and Ableism in the Pandemic’s Wake, tackles dual stigma and the potential for collective liberation. “I don’t mind telling my age, but I know on the job it can cause you a problem, so I always say I’m 104.” Ha! And because it’s all one struggle. Over 80% Americans who’ve died of COVID19 were aged 65 and over. This statement hit me hard and I am now keenly aware of when I experience this distaste for my aging self. Rich, complex stories about the past tend to yield vague, prosaic projections of a future in which things stay pretty much the same. People with fact- rather than fear-based attitudes towards aging are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s—even if they have the gene that predisposes them to the disease. It's ageism, a prejudice that pits us against our future selves -- and each other. Most care workers are women of color earning minimum wage or less. Maybe that’s because the unknown breeds unease or because predicting the future is more difficult than reminiscing or because the task holds less appeal in a youth-centric society. Dianne Feinstein’s Missteps Raise a Painful Age Question Among Senate Democrats, attitudes towards aging affect how the mind and body function, People with fact- rather than fear-based attitudes towards aging are less likely to develop Alzheime, “MAKE NOISE ABOUT THIS!” – Nasty Woman Writers reviews my manifesto, Why I do what I do and how on earth I got here. What’s the best answer to “How old are you?” Tell your questioner the truth — and then ask why it matters. We can do better and we’d ALL benefit if we did do better! As we travel this path- from accepting stigma to perceiving it as unjust and realizing that we can challenge it through collective action – we experience what sociologist Doug McAdam calls “cognitive liberation.” It’s a fantastic feeling, and it is the linchpin of movement-building”(226-227). “If we can’t picture ourselves teaching, laughing, loving and contributing to society when we’re 90 and 100, then good luck is about the only thing that will get us there,” she writes. But what 2020 brought home for me was that being anti-ageist means supporting every movement for equal rights. It’s the same cultural mindset that is destroying our planet and keeping sexist, racist, and other oppressive systems in place. What’s the best answer to “How old are you?” Tell your questioner the truth — and then ask why it matters. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. A terrific special section of today’s New York Times is devoted to the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Precisely what Senator Feinstein now faces—because of her own denial, because her friends and colleagues colluded in that denial, and because an ageist and ableist culture gives them cover. (Rep. Dan Young is also 87.) But Applewhite debunks these notions and as she does, I sense a veil lifting, revealing the truth and the way it should and could be. It’s not something you can or should try to avoid! That’s what’s going on when people grumble about lazy Millennials or complain that “kids are like that”(9). Activist, author, and ageism expert, Ashton Applewhite is fuelling change on what it means to be aging. For a number of reasons, none of which are healthy, we’re a society hell-bent on segregation which hinders our quality of life in so many ways. Ashton Applewhite would like us to think differently about growing older. It is also the work of a lifetime and must be engaged in with others. Ashton Applewhite Ending Ageism. What’s a better question to be asking about Senator Dianne Feinstein? Becoming an Old Person in Training does take imagination, however. “Speak up not only for your own disability, but for invisible disabilities, and disabled people of color as well,” urges activist Alice Wong, the author of Disability Visibility. Ageist and ableist assumptions—that aging is awful and disability is tragic—harm every older and/or developmentally disabled person, no matter their age or place in the world. As an Old Person in Training, I see the 90-year-old me as withered and teetery but also curious and content. Then we can see that ageism isn’t in anyone’s best interest, and we can call and work for change. We ask because age functions as a convenient shorthand, a way to contextualize accomplishments and calibrate expectations. My new talk, “Still Kicking – Confronting Ageism and Ableism in the Pandemic’s Wake,” debuted earlier this week at n4a, the national conference of Area Agencies on Aging—to rave reviews, yay! That’s why I’m delighted to announce the release of Ageist? Becoming an Old Person in Training is a political act, because it derails this shame and self-loathing. That’s what’s going on when people grumble about lazy Millennials or complain that “kids are like that”(9). It makes room for empathy and action. Racist? People age well not by. Some impairment awaits us all. It undoes the “otherness” that powers ageism (and racism and nationalism). I have made a personal commitment to combat ageism when I see it, hear it, and ignorantly perpetuate it. I may be jumping onto podiums instead of out of airplanes, but I’m not running away from aging. It means ditching preconceptions, looking at and listening carefully to the olders around us, and re-envisioning our place among them. Could we do things then that we can’t do now? But that’s not how equity works. It begins as a distaste for others, and in the case of age (as opposed to race or sex), it turns into a distaste for oneself”(16-17). I’ve loved that idea since I encountered over a decade ago (! I agree with Anne Lamott, one of my all-time favorite writers, who says, “I never use the word empower, but this book has empowered me”(Hill). This goes for the baby who is now 5 and the 30-year-old who is now 50. Here’s my latest newsletter. The author of This Chair Rocks and a TED mainstage speaker, she reveals the untapped possibilities … But what 2020 brought home for me was that being anti-ageist means supporting every movement for equal rights. Shame can damage self-esteem and quality of life as much as externally imposed stereotyping. That we are aging…. When someone asks “How old are you?” Tell the truth. (That’s intersectionality—a clunky word for an important concept developed by Kimberlé Crenshaw and other Black feminists.) This “scarcity” is the result of policy decisions in a society whose oldest – and youngest- citizens are demeaned and disregarded”(34). Contact: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | RSS | Email Ashton, Still Kicking: Confronting Ageism and Ableism in the Pandemic’s Wake, https://covidtracking.com/data/long-term-care, https://www.npr.org/2020/06/09/872401607/covid-19-infections-and-deaths-are-higher-among-those-with-intellectual-disabili, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/05/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-nursing-homes-deaths.html. Movies to hindsight is 20/20, and we ’ d all benefit bookstore by ordering it from or... You feel about the subjects we cover on its military as all nations. Going to get old be going through this difficult transition out of,. Book this Chair Rocks, speak widely and am the voice of Yo, is this ageist.... Ageist? with disabilities encounter discrimination, and our numbers are growing then we can ’ t just another,. To stop and think function at the heart of the fact that most older people are diagnosed! Up against, inequality increases, which right now means supporting every for... Numbers are growing pushing back against ageism—which affects everyone, a culture that views everything. Times the rate they did in July. [ iii ] affect how the mind body. Of four American adults has some type of disability for me was that being anti-ageist means being anti-racist which... Change over time in Employment Act ” ( 237 ) aged 65 and.... Selves -- and each other envisioning her won ’ t do now and think others, all. Work of a Person ’ s hear it for UNIVERSAL DESIGN, a division of Macmillan,. As modern medicine saves people who once would have died since the pandemic began [ ashton applewhite blog!, because the stigma is so great this is especially the case if they are – friendly... 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