By Steve Moran

When people start talking ageism I mostly reach for the popcorn🍿. Much of what gets people upset is ridiculous or true. I write this as someone who is 68 years old, living an amazing life, and making a positive difference in the world.

Fake Ageism 

There is real ageism, which I will talk about in a minute, but so much of the outrage comes from people talking about the very real and harsh reality of aging while ignoring real ageism.

  • I can’t run as fast or as far as I used to, and that is the result of my aging body. Even Tom Brady, who has taken superb care of his body, has aged out of football. That’s not ageism, that is reality.
  • I don’t ski patrol anymore, because I take blood thinners, something I didn’t have to do when I was 30, 40, 50 years old. That is not ageism, that is reality.
  • I spend more time going to the doctors, taking more pills, and worrying about my health more. Talking about that reality is not ageism.
  • There may be some jokes about aging that are ageist, but most are not. Most are funny and a way of dealing with the physical realities that are a part of the aging process.
  • My father quit working as a physician when he was in his early 80s because he realized his thinking was slowing down, and he didn’t want to hurt anyone. He made the right decision. Quitting and talking about quitting are not ageist.

Most of what Ashton Applewhite, someone who sees ageism around every corner, talks about is silly and not ageism.

Real Ageism

Real ageism makes assumptions about older people’s capabilities and judges them before figuring out their capabilities or not. What is ageist about this cover is not the walkers or the suggestion that some politicians are too old, but it is the four people who are shown. (This is not political.)

Two, Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell, clearly have demonstrated significant deficits that are most often associated with aging. It is fair to ask the question, are they too old? which is not quite the right question. Rather, it should be, “Are they still able to represent the best interests of the people in this country?”

The other two, Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi, are not at all like Biden and McConnell. They are as sharp and assertive and with it as ever. … Remember, this is not a political discussion. They are not at all like Biden and McConnell. That makes this post ageist.

This is critically important, because all this silly stuff ignores real ageism. I was recently talking to a senior living resident who talked about being surprised at how patronizing the staff is toward her, how she and other residents are always treated as second-class people. That’s real ageism.

It happens everywhere, even on social media. I have discovered there is a new group of emerging young leaders in senior living who are active on LinkedIn. I have noticed that when I comment on their stuff, it is ignored where other people’s posts are not. Now I am willing to admit, maybe it is personal and not ageism, but I think age is a big part of it.

The thing that concerns me the most is that the fake ageism that Ashton Applewhite and others in the aging services world decry masks the real ageism that is taking place in the world and in our own industry.