Guest Blog: Celebrating the accomplishments of successful individuals age 50+

 

 

By Ann Hossack and Marylou Hilliard

What do Cher, Steven Spielberg and William J. Clinton have in common? They are among the first baby boomers to turn 70 during 2017. Unlike previous generations who saw milestones such as retirement or turning 70 as indicators they were approaching the end of their life; today’s boomers are vibrant, engaged and continue to make positive contributions in their professions and to society.

According to The Globe & Mail – “The Boomer Shift – January 5, 2017, “As of this year, for the first time, Canada has more people over the age of 65 than under 15. The age group that now encompasses the boomer generation – 50 to 69 – makes up 27 per cent of the population, compared with 18 per cent in that age group two decades ago”.

This aging population is changing the fabric of society; so why is it that society is still obsessed with youth – just think about all those Top 30 under 30 and top 40 over 40 lists. Traditionally, innovation and “change-making” has primarily been recognized to be within the sphere of the young.

However, individuals who are mid-life aged and beyond represent an incredible source of talent, experience and wisdom that provides them the opportunity to make a difference in their lives and to the world. They have a desire to follow their passions, fulfill lifelong dreams and improve the future for generations to come. Moreover they are among the largest group of individuals to keep philanthropic efforts and volunteerism, which are critical to societal progress alive and well.

That’s why AGEWORKS has chosen to publicly acknowledge successful accomplishments of people aged 50+; to raise awareness for this inequity and to demonstrate that older people offer a variety of innovative solutions to an array of important societal issues.

The AGEWORKS Top 50 Over 50 Awards celebrate Canadians who know who to dream, create, contribute and achieve in many different areas. Winners will be acknowledged at the inaugural Top 50 Over 50 Awards Gala being held in Toronto in November 2017.

The recipients, and their stories, will serve as inspiration to others with a message that you’re never too old to make significant changes in your career or your life via reinvention, pursue a long-held dream or redefine what it means to be successful. These amazing stories will be publicly leveraged to help combat some of the ageism myths, like over 50 means over the hill, that still exist.

Success will be measured on a variety of criteria, including finding purpose, social change, innovation and inspiring others, by a panel of independent judges who have significant expertise and involvement within the 50+ category. Selected judges recognize the importance of these awards and will bring their objectivity and enthusiasm to this essential role.

For more information or to nominate someone go to:  http://www.ageworks.co

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Marylou Hilliard has over 25 years of advertising expertise and has earned a reputation as a brand champion. She has worked with a broad range of clients targeting an “ageing population” including the development of a new brand identity and design of several research reports for International Federation on Ageing and volunteer work for the Consumers Council of Canada and Psychologist Foundation of Canada.

Ann Hossack has held senior database marketing roles and has communicated effectively to consumer and business-to-business markets including those 50+ across a wide variety of industries. She believes that companies have yet to fully embrace this target group and is determined to promote the value of 50+ individuals as employees, entrepreneurs, volunteers or consumers.

Guest Blog: Ageism in Health Care

By Susan Pratten
Part 2

Ageist beliefs that older adults are weak and frail do not reflect the fact that the majority of persons over 65 consider themselves in good health. Recent research by psychologist and assistant professor, Yale School of Public Health, Becca Levy PhD, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, describes how attitudes towards aging have a measurable effect on how people age. Positive attitudes of aging improve mental and physical function while negative ones can harm physical and cognitive health. This is not a simple causal relationship but people with negative self-perceptions around aging are less likely to engage in healthy practices like having regular checkups, controlling weight and diet, and exercising, and vice versa.

Will Ageism be eradicated in Your Lifespan?

Popular efforts to challenge ageism have consisted of Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to portray older persons who have aged outside of the typical ageist profile, often highlighting what society views as youthful appearance, or extraordinary achievement. Preoccupation with such exceptions is itself ageist.

Over the last fifteen years in Ontario there have been a number of educational ageism awareness initiatives (e.g. Best Before sticker) but there is little, if any, evidence that they have had an impact on reducing ageism. Intergenerational interventions have documented a number of benefits to participants, but the effect on ageism is mixed. Further research is warranted.

There have also been a growing number of calls to action (e.g. Time For Action: Advancing the Rights of Older Persons in Ontario and OCSCO Positive Active Aging Forum) for community and government partners to ensure that their policies and programs will not result in marginalization, disadvantage and discrimination for older persons. Late in 2015, the World Health Organization launched their call for action for an age-friendly world, which, among other actions, advocates for ones that “combat ageism, enable autonomy and support Healthy Ageing in all policies and at all levels of government”.

Theatre Production to Combat Ageism

Impatient with how entrenched ageism is in spite of efforts to reduce it, Dr. Bill Thomas, founder of The Eden Alternative and Green House Project, initiated his Age of Disruption Tour, a theatrical and musical performance designed to challenge ageist stereotypes, and promote the concept of change at both the community and personal levels. The Tour brought 101 live events to 30 cities in 20 states. Dates and locations are being scheduled for 2016.

Top Three Recommendations

  1. Engage in consciousness raising by acknowledging personal views about age and aging, including fears about loss and death.
  2. Ensure an intersectionality approach to understanding health disparities and exploring solutions by including older persons representing gender, disability, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, culture and language.
  3. Build evaluative frameworks into all programs and initiatives to determine their effectiveness in altering views about aging and in changing the way older people are treated in regard to their competence and value in society.

Anti-ageism Websites

This Chair Rocks: Pushing Back Against Ageism – Which Affects Everyone

The Radical Age Movement: Leveraging the Power of Age

Silver Century Foundation

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Susan Pratten M.S.W., RSW is a professor in the Social Service Worker-Gerontology program in the Faculty of Applied Health and Community Studies at Sheridan College.

Guest Blog: Ageism In Healthcare

By Susan Pratten
Part One

Ageism can be a cause for both individual acts of age discrimination and for discrimination that is more systemic in nature, such as in the provision of services and programs and in the development of structures such as housing and health care facilities, including hospitals and clinics.

It has been 50 years since Dr. Robert Butler coined the term ‘ageism’, a way of thinking about older persons based on primarily negative attitudes and stereotypes about their perceived age with associated beliefs about their competencies and abilities. Ageist views equate aging with decline and a diminished human value, which condones inferior conditions (e.g. segregated housing, poverty), unequal treatment (e.g. transportation, employment, health care), abuse and neglect.

According to the Revera Report on Ageism, published by Revera, a seniors’ care provider, and the International Federation on Ageing (IFA), more than one-third of Canadians admit to ageist behaviour; and 71 per cent agree older people are less valued than younger generations. Regarding discrimination encountered from the health care system, 78% of older persons reported their health concerns were dismissed as being an inevitable part of aging. The report concluded that ageism is the most tolerated form of social discrimination in Canada when compared to gender or race-based discrimination. There is growing evidence that ageism is institutionalized in health care which puts the health and quality of life of older adults at risk.

Nobody is Born Ageist

Attitudes and stereotypes about age begin to form in early childhood and are internalized throughout adulthood. The understanding and challenging of age related prejudice is complex given we are all aging. The study of aging and work with older adults is intertwined with our fears about the aging process and fears associated with illness, death and decline.

A key part of ageism is reluctance to admit personal aging. How many have heard a person over 70 say they will not go to a retirement home because too many old people live there? Stereotyping, the assumption that all members of a group are the same underlies ageism and yet as people age the more heterogeneous the population becomes.

Age and Intersectionality

The Ontario Human Rights Commission acknowledges that people may experience disadvantage in unique ways based on the intersection of age with other aspects of their identity. Consider how ageism is compounded with a resulting increase in social and health barriers when older persons are older women, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered persons, or persons from diverse linguistic, religious, ethnic or racial backgrounds. As an example, aging has a disproportionate effect on women with disabilities who are especially vulnerable to discrimination, economic disadvantage and barriers to adequate health care.

Ageism within Health Care

Ageism within health care can take several forms, including health professionals having negative attitudes towards older people, engaging in patronizing behaviour, denying or limiting services, and by not including aging issues in training material or educational offerings even though it is clear that the growing proportion of consumers, clients and patients will be older adults.

Ageism fosters pity instead of empathy, promotes rescue instead of empowerment, and can lead to frustration and anger at the older person. It extends to the devaluing of careers in aging, which has resulted in a severe shortage of geriatricians and other social and health professionals to care for the needs of the aging population. No Ontario medical school, for example, currently offers core training in geriatrics. Sheridan College in Ontario is one of the few Colleges in Canada with a social service specialization in gerontology. It is essential that all programs that educate professionals who work with older persons include knowledge about aging and age discrimination within their curricula.

Look for part two on January 20, 2016.
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Susan Pratten M.S.W., RSW is a professor in the Social Service Worker-Gerontology program in the Faculty of Applied Health and Community Studies at Sheridan College.

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The Aging Matters blog is changing in 2016
The Sheridan Centre for Elder Research will continue to write about current
and relevant issues related to aging the first Wednesday of every month.
Our guest bloggers will be contributing the third Wednesday of each month.

Fighting Ageism Through Intergenerational Film Making

Revera Retirement Homes has partnered with the Reel Youth film program to create an exciting new intergenerational project. The partners involved in this project have a history of advocating for older adults in innovative and meaningful ways.

Age is MoreTM
Revera began the Age is More initiative in an effort to confront the pervasive ageist attitudes that exist in today’s society. Often older adults are perceived as being ‘feeble and doddering’ when in fact they are a heterogeneous group of individuals like any other age cohort. This ambitious initiative plans to raise awareness and bring an end to ageism through research, commentary and storytelling.

Reel Youth
Reel Youth describe themselves as, “a not-for-profit, media empowerment program supporting youth, adults and organizations to create and distribute engaging films about the issues they care about most”. The Reel Youth ‘artist mentors’ provide the necessary leadership for young (under 19) individuals or groups to create ‘powerful media’ through film. With Canadian chapters in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, Reel Youth is an international program that has produced over 1,000 films in over 9 years.

Age is More Film Project
According to Revera, the Age is More Film Project, “brings together youth and older adults in a creative collaboration to produce short films that celebrate ageless spirit”. In 2013, twenty short films were created by the partnership. For each film a young adult was paired with an older adult and given 6 days to create a short film with the guidance of a professional filmmaker. The final 3-minute films highlight engaging stories as told by older adults. All the films were submitted to the Reel Youth Film Festival.

The Revera Three O’s of Age Awareness
Addressing ageism means changing the way we engage with older adults. Here are some tips from Revera.

Open-mindedness
Many people assume they know what’s best for older adults. But, like all of us, older adults want to be actively involved in matters that affect them. Be sure to consult with the older adults in your life and allow them to share their opinions and have input into all decisions that affect them.

Optimism
People tend to focus on the negative consequences of aging. Instead, focus on the joys and fulfillment that can come with growing older. An optimistic attitude can go a long way to fueling age-inclusive behaviour.

Outreach
Research shows a lack of contact between people of different generations fuels stereotypes and misperceptions. The simple act of reaching out to talk with someone older will promote positive attitudes and behaviour towards older generations.

Find out if you are age aware by taking Revera’s Age Aware Quiz.

Revera is also offering a contest to win a $100 gift card by sharing a story about how your life has been enriched by someone of a different generation.