- Prejudice is typically perpetrated against 'the other', i.e. a group outside our own.
- But ageism is prejudice against ourselves — at least, the people we will (hopefully!) become.
- Different generations needs to cooperate now more than ever to solve global problems.
- A huge segment of America's population — the Baby Boom generation — is aging and will live longer than any American generation in history.
- The story we read about in the news? Their drain on social services like Social Security and Medicare.
- But increased longevity is a cause for celebration, says Ashton Applewhite, not doom and gloom.
Here's why many 80 year olds are probably happier than you.
- The U-curve of happiness shows that we humans are most content at the beginnings and ends of our lives.
- The famous midlife crisis is the trough of our happiness because it's a time when we have responsibility for people older and younger than us, and we grow aware that we may not fulfill the dreams of our youth.
- Children and people in their 80s are uniquely able to live in the moment and be happy because they live at a neurological and psychological sweet spot, respectively.
The older we are, the less our chronological age may say about us.
- Elder speak is the condescending language — "Dearie" "Honey" "Sweetie" — many people revert to when talking with people advanced in age.
- People spoken to in this condescending way, Yale researchers have found, begin to think, act, and even move differently.
- Ageism is based on stereotypes — the assumption that all members of a group are alike. This bias is particularly ironic when it comes to older individuals because they tend to be more dissimilar from one another — due to increasingly divergent life experiences — than younger people.
Ashton Applewhite is a Brooklyn-based activist and writer. Her latest book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, debunks many myths about late life.