There are some things in life that are unavoidable and aging is certainly near the top of the list. Although we all must get older, ageist mindsets deeply entrenched in our society and institutions continue to negatively affect older adults. But by teaching students about the psychology of aging, a group of Canadian professors hopes to offer younger people an opportunity to learn about what it is like to grow older and perhaps gain some empathy along the way.
According to a recent report in The Conversation, a coroner’s inquest into COVID-19 deaths in Quebec long-term care facilities demonstrated that agism was a contributing factor. While much research has been conducted about the younger adults who died from the novel coronavirus, the deaths of thousands of older adults were merely tallied. Or worse, failed to be reported.
Systemic ageism can have significant health ramifications among the elderly when basic human rights are neglected. Discrimination towards older adults during the pandemic often undervalued seniors, leading to millions of seniors dying prematurely or suffering from chronic social isolation. Remember the morbid meme “boomer remover”?
As the proportion of the world’s older population swells over the next 30 years, it is anticipated that 1 in 6 people will be over the age of 65. Through education and more interaction between younger and older generations, cultural ageist ideas can be changed. With a greater understanding of aging, younger adults can learn to fear aging less, understand older people, and develop greater empathy and respect.
Learn more about how courses on aging can help facilitate more age-consciousness among younger people and combat ageism by following this link to a recent research article published in the Canadian Journal on Aging.