That happened about a year ago. I got out of the subway and saw an advertisement for a grocery delivery at the station wall. It read, "If you want a whole pie for yourself because you turn 30, which is basically 50, which is basically dead."
After some of us screamed about the ad in the social media, the company apologized for what it was called attempted humor and what I would call ageism.
You may recall another media campaign last autumn that sought to encourage young people's participation in the midterm elections. To achieve this commendable goal, the marketers invoked all negative stereotypes of old people ̵
Adweek called it "weird wild".
And such jabs are mere micro-aggression compared to the forms that Ageism often assumes: ubiquitous employment discrimination, biased healthcare, media cartoons or invisibility. If internalized by older adults themselves, ageist beliefs can worsen mental and physical health.
"It's an incredibly widespread and insidious problem," said Alana Officer, who directs the World Health Organization's global campaign against agingism, defined as "stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination" based on age. "It's not just individuals, it's our attitude to politics."
As the first step in the campaign announced in 2016, W.H.O. has invested half a million dollars in research. Four teams around the world are gathering and evaluating the available evidence of alterism – its causes and health consequences, how it can be tackled and how it can best be measured.
Her work will appear in a United Nations report published in a report The organizers hope for that.
One of the research groups at Cornell University has already completed its task and plans to publish its study in the American Journal of Public Health. It brings surprisingly good news.
The team spent a year and a half reviewing dozens of articles from the 1970s to the last year to evaluate anti-aging programs. Such efforts occurred throughout the country in the years after the psychiatrist and gerontologist dr. Robert Butler 1969 had coined the term "Ageism".
"But, are you doing something good?" "Do interventions that supposedly change people's attitude to age actually work?"
Researchers analyzed 64 studies, most of which were conducted in the United States, involving 6,124 participants, from pre-school children to young adults. The investigators classified about one-third of the programs studied as transgenerational, creating contacts between young and old that could theoretically mitigate prejudice.
About a third of them were instructive and taught facts about aging to challenge stereotypes and myths. The rest combined both approaches.
These were small, inexpensive, local endeavors, said David Burnes, principal author of the study, who is now a gerontologist at the University of Toronto. These included:
After such interventions, the participants showed almost universal age at age tests and age significantly less age than the comparison groups who had not participated. The combined pedagogical and intergenerational approach proved to be the most effective.
"The message is loud and clear," Dr. Pillemer. "The attitude of the age groups does not seem to be as conceited as we think. They can be relatively malleable. "
That's important because ageism is barely benign. "These stereotypes can directly affect the health and function of older people," said Becca Levy, social psychologist at the Yale School of Public Health, and head of the WHO-sponsored review of health impact assessments.
The study In her group, her own important work on the topic of ageism has been carried out for over 20 years. Dr. Levy has shown that older people who rate aging positively recover much more from disability than those who believe in a negative age stereotype.
Levy and her colleagues are concerned with ageism and cognition.
"In the case of negative stereotypes, older people have a higher risk of dementia," she said. "They have larger accumulations of plaques and tangles in the brain, the biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease, and a decreased size of the hippocampus," the part of the brain that communicates with memory.
So this is not a joke. "However, there is a great deal of social acceptance of Ageism," Dr. Levy and referred to television, social media and everyday interactions. Although studies have found that children aged three or four already have ageist ideas, we now have studies showing that we can overcome them.
The most important questions remain unanswered. In the studies conducted by the Cornell group, participants were analyzed for an average of 15 weeks. Therefore, we do not know how long the positive effects of such interventions will last. There is also little data on how the internalized aging of older people can be postponed.
We also do not know if and how positive attitudes can be put into action. Do citizens of a younger age support stronger enforcement of laws against discrimination in the workplace? Or defend Medicare and Social Security against ill-considered budget cuts?
But even if only short-lived interventions can move the Hiring Needle, I am encouraged to continue my personal anti-aging campaign. (Author and activist Ashton Applewhite has set up a helpful online clearinghouse called Old School.)
It's not always easy to find the balance between offensive messages and counterproductive ranting, but individuals can comment on ageist generalizations.
We can argue the merits of one or the other politician, without rejecting candidates, just because they are too old (or too young). We can distribute atta-girls and atta-boys to those who are not afraid to show their real face and hair color (though we admit that the job market sometimes dictates otherwise).
We can gently protest when even beloved friends and family members succumb to stereotypical thinking.
A few months ago, during the relaxation phase of my morning exercise, the instructor asked us – against the backdrop of dreamy music – visualize swimming on a romantic evening along the Seine. Imagine the moon, intoned it. Imagine that you are 30.
She meant it jokingly, but every student in the class was at least a few decades above (as she was), but could still enjoy the moonlight in Paris.
There followed a discussion. Point made. Point taken.