Just in case anyone thinks Time Goes By might have made any inroads against ageism in its 20 months of existence, take a look at these:
“Once consumed with bell bottoms, paisley shirts and page boy haircuts, many boomers now find themselves preoccupied with bifocals, cholesterol counts and fallen arches…
“[Baby Boomer/Senior Expo] will provide information on senior health care, leisure time activities, retirement communities, financial planning, legal representation, home improvement…”
- - North County News, 17 October 2005
“So we’re getting older, no big whoop. Old is another story. Old has stories of cheap gas and walking to a school on a hill. Old smells of mothballs and gives stupid reindeer sweaters for Christmas…
“I just never want to be old. The only thing after old is navigating a huge Oldsmobile, washing down a Centrum Silver with the morning can of Ensure, and a subscription to Reader’s Digest. None of the above things can be considered good…”
- - The Vanguard, 17 October 2005
So, the picture painted of old people is that we are sick, lazy, litigious and boring, and these are not isolated attitudes; they are commonly held beliefs repeated in the media hundreds of times every day.
The first excerpt above is from a press release masquerading as a news story about an upcoming Boomer/Senior Expo in Baltimore. The second is from an Alabama college newspaper, so the writer is probably about 20. What is discouraging about both is that neither writer, nor the organizers of the Expo, suspects their ageism.
Both excerpts are representative of the Medicalization of Elderhood brought on by the Doctrine of Youth’s Perfection which states that everyone over 50, if they do not have the grace to die, becomes obsessed with health and related personal pursuits to the exclusion of all else.
It was a plan from the inception of Time Goes By to build of page of links to the best websites about aging and/or catering to people older than 50. It has never materialized because aside from such nuts-and-bolts information sites as Social Security and Medicare, there are none that go beyond health, retirement communities, leisure activities, financial planning, legal assistance and home improvement – the list in the “press release” above which, in the narrowness of its topics, is ageist to its core.
There is nothing wrong with these topics except that they are ALL that is offered to older people as though after age 50 or so, we lose interest in anything but the cost of pills - an attitude that reinforces the pervasive bias against old people and passes it on to the next generation, like the kid from the Alabama college.
The organizers of the Boomer/Senior Expo and the people behind the abundance of social service organizations for old people, with their meager range of offerings, haven't caught up with 21st century aging. They mean well, but with friends like these...