“I find that even people who think they are not ageist often in fact are. I have referred a number of people to the Harvard Implicit Association Test (IAT) which is designed to reveal a variety of negative biases including ageism. Some very good friends of mine who lovingly work with seniors have been shocked to learn that they are biased against aging.
“You will remember from my current series on Jung's Seven Tasks of Aging that the first task is ‘To face the reality of aging and dying.’ I submit that until one fulfills that task, one will likely have a negative bias against aging.”
He followed up with a challenge to readers of Time Goes By to take a test to determine their level of ageism.
As it turns out, I wrote about this test on TGB two years ago and many of us were surprised to find that we had biases against elders ranging from slight to moderate. Two years ago when I took the test, I received this result:
“Your data suggest a slight automatic preference for young compared to old.”
Yesterday, I received this result:
“Your data suggest a strong automatic preference for young compared to old.”
Ahem. Not encouraging for someone who considers herself an advocate for elders.
David notes that rather than be troubled if our test results are less than stellar, we should ask ourselves “what we are going to do to transcend the bias so that no negative actions flow from it…
“Getting older doesn't do it,” continues David.
“I've met countless people in their 70s, 80s and older who are ageist. The battles that take place in senior housing "facilities" waged by the relatively fit against those in wheelchairs and on walkers coming into the same dining room are the result of ageism - the relatively fit rejecting those who are visibly less fit because the former associate aging with infirmity. People who wage such battles have failed to fulfill Jung's First Task of Aging.
"Incidentally, scores of non-profit organizations wanting to do good works for seniors call the communities they build for them "facilities." Is that not an ageist term? No one calls housing for younger people ‘facilities.’”
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, new contributor Barbara Skinner tells us about searching for the perfect retirement home in Italy in A House in San Venanzo.]