Section on Geriatrics


September 1996 -- Vol. 3, No.3 (Table of Contents)

?Copyright Section on Geriatrics, American Physical Therapy Association


Reprinted with permission from Network, Volume 1, Issue 2, September/October 1995, pg. 14, A Gray Panther Publication.

Gray Panthers: An Intergenerational organization dedicated to bringing together young, old, women, men, persons of all ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds for the promotion of social justice.

Help Stamp Out Ageism

Step I
How to define it:

Ageism is:

Step II
How to identify ageists:

The Pretenders - These are misguided older folks who believe that age is "all in your head."

The Discriminators - Some of their best friends are old, so how could they be ageist? However, they are quick to point out the realistic limitations of older applicants to jobs in their sphere of influence.

The Exceptionalists - These elders consider themselves the fortunate exceptions to society's negative view of old people. While they think of themselves as vigorous, productive and useful to society, they imagine most of their peers to be in bad shape, useless and boring.

The Colonialists - This type is frequently found among politicians, and is not all rare in the ageism establishment. They may easily be identified because they always preface any word for the aging with a possessive pronoun, such as "OUR senior citizens" or "MY elderly."

The Patronizers - This garden variety is commonly found in senior programs. To them, the old are just delightful when in "their place," and like children, should be catered to and played with.

These are just a few types of ageists. You can most likely add your own list.

Step III
The hardest step to accept:

We are ALL ageist.

Whether we're young, middle-aged or old, whether we've taken courses in gerontology or not, whether we think we're immune or too well-meaning to be afflicted, we are all ageists.

We're ageist because the society we live in is permeated with ageism. We can no more escape it than we can the chemicals in our food - or sexism or racism for that matter. But at least in the case of the other two social diseases, there's been some progress, and some serious efforts to combat them.

Ageism, by comparison, has been analyzed very little and manifests itself in variations with hardly a challenge.

Step IV
What you can do to help stamp out ageism:

Special thanks to Dr. Robert Butler, Tish Sommers, and Dr. Deborah V. Gross for their contributions to this brochure.

For additional information contact:
Gray Panthers
2025 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20006
1-800-280-5362 202-466-3132

Note: "Ageism: What is it? How Can We Avoid It?", a new brochure available from national.

September 1996 -- Vol. 3, No.3 (Table of Contents)

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