subtle ageism

Subtle Ageism and What to Do About It

March 17, 2024

It Has Me Seeing Red More Than Gray!

subtle ageism
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OK, so my last birthday was big one! I crossed over into my 60’s on a gorgeous day spent with my husband in the sun and surf and capped it off with an exceptional meal, prepared  in a tagine. It was an epoch day and I was feeling pretty good about my new number.  And then I started noticing something. It was something subtle at first and I think it has less to do with that number and more to do with my face, my voice and a whole lot of assumptions. I’m talking about subtle ageism. And I’m thinking about what to do about it. 

subtle ageism
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Subtle Agism: We’re talking about MEN AND WOMEN OF A “CERTAIN AGE”

So here’s a recent example, I’m looking for a new point-of-sale software for my brick-and-mortar store, Consignments Ltd. I’ve been in business for almost 20 years and the program we use is going the way of the dodo. I have all these calls and demos scheduled to check out my options when the woman on the other end tries to explain to me what a Zoom Call is. Excuse me? Unless you’ve been living under a rock since we were hit with COVID, you know what a Zoom call is. My Mom is 90 and she knows. But assumptions were made and subtle ageism, couched in being kind and thorough, reared its ugly head. Men and women of a certain age, my age and older, you know what I’m talking about? We are being discounted at the very moment that we know the most we’ve probably ever known! What is up with that? I might not know how to upload a video to TikTok, but I sure as hell can hand write a thank you note, in cursive! And I know where the stamp goes on the envelope to mail it! Don’t even get me started about long division! 

Let’s face it, ageism sucks. And subtle ageism is even more insidious because it’s presented as being “helpful.” There’s no two ways about it; it’s not cool. And ageism can have negative affects on your self esteem, your physical health and your finances! So what can you do? You want to change the dynamic. And fight the ageism. So consider the following few strategies…

fighting ageism
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Push Back Against Subtle Ageism:

Although you probably don’t wan to be like Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail” getting off the zinger at the expense of yourself, you will often want to say something when faced with subtle ageism. You don’t need to be aggressive or mean, just use your words to gently remind the ageist that things are not always as they seem (we don’t all drive poorly, move slowly, have dementia, or misunderstand technology). And when someone tries to do something for you, that you’re perfectly capable of doing yourself, the response might be, “Thank you so much, but I’m all set.” When the young woman “old-splained” Zoom to me I chose the polite push back. My response was firm but fair. “On my regular Zoom calls with vendors, I generally find headphones helpful. And you?” I got a stuttering surprised, “Oh, of course.Yes.” And then I got a correction. But what if you’re waiting at CVS and they take every other younger person ahead of you? I say you push your way to the counter and tell the clerk that age has its privileges. It’s hard, but being discounted is worse. 

subtle ageism
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Defy Stereotypes When Faced With Subtle Ageism:

Keeping up is not just for the Jones. Older adults can stay active, interested and engaged. This flys in the face of what some think and helps to fight subtle ageism. If you pursue your passions, stay active and continue to learn new things it’s not only great for your body and your brain, but it fights subtle ageism in the process. Keep ’em guessing. It’s a great strategy.

fight ageism
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Learn Your Rights And Fight Ageism

Ageism, as we’ve said, is just not cool. But did you also know that in some instances, like the workplace, it can be illegal? It’s important to understand what age discrimination (the worse form of ageism) is. The AARP has a great (and brief) article: The 7 Signs of Age Discrimination that’s really worth a look. And if you think you’ve been a victim of age discrimination you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Civil Rights Center.

Let’s remember, we folks of a certain age know a lot and have a lot to offer. Let’s not be discounted today or any time soon.

Have a lovely Sunday, my friends. Marianne

For more self improvement topics, check out my previous blogs: Accident Prevention Checklist For Your Home and Fire Safety Checklist For Your Home.

1 Comment

  • Reply
    John Nadolny
    March 17, 2024 at 7:15 am

    I know exactly what you mean about ageism. My new favorite song is by the late Toby Keith. ” Don`t Let The Old Man In.”

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