Aging according to the American English dictionary is well defined as the process of becoming more mature or older. It can also be various processes that occur contributing to the deterioration of health and ultimate death with time. The manifestation of aging is through; the frailty of the old person’s increased rates of morbidity and mortality and disability (Powell,2006). On the other hand, ageism is the different ways of treating people or persons based on age-relating stereotypes or assumptions. However, currently, older people are faced with challenges because of how society perceives them. Older people are seen to be; slow, sick, unproductive, sad, unskilled, fragile, forgetful, lonely, and needy among others.
I have come across a particular famous media article with the title “Ageing population in Australia.” This recent article majorly talks about the aging population of Australia. It tries to outline Australians’ stereotypes and perceptions toward aged people, how they are perceived to pose a universal and economic threat, media portrayals, their roles, and overall representation (whether negative or positive). Stereotypes can lead to discrimination, prejudice, and ageism against older people (Nelson,2004).
Young Australians are very cynical and afraid of the aging process. They associate aging with poor health, hearing loss, mental incapacity, and income loss. Being old is perceived differently in different circumstances such as in community or business activities. In this piece, regarding age, the Australian people consider being older as the period 55 years and above (Australian Human Rights Commission,2013). The aging process is portrayed as a source of discrimination. Discrimination can be in the workplace, retail or social situations. For example, when a colleague cracks a joke about their age or their un-involvement in the decision-making process (Crawford $ Walker,2008). Older people often tend to feel ignored, devalued, overlooked, disrespected, worthless, useless, unwanted, etc.,
In my point of view, the concept of aging in this article is negatively portrayed. The Australian government is currently well known to be facing critical challenges from its aging population. The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a prediction of an expected increase in median age from 37 years from 2007 to 2056. This study indicates that the proportionality of over 65 years Australians is likely to shoot from 13% to 26% in the very period (Marianna,2013). With this remarkable age rise, an old-age population is not only a threat to the Australian political system but also to its economy.
Based on the Republican point of view, Plato writes; “it is for the elder man to rule and then for the younger to submit.” This phenomenon is a good definition of “gerontocracy” which means oligarchical societal rule by its very elders (Hooyman $ Kiyak,2011). This ideology can now be perceived to become a reality by the Australian people. The old people are very active and are hence seen to be a more significant blow to the future generations, brilliant minds with political interests. Some researchers suggest that there is some conservatism linked to older generations. They tend to stand a high voting power and unstoppable political influence. The older generation often has entirely different priorities from a young age (Arber,2002).
A good example is the pension reform case. With obstructing demographic crisis, there is a dire need for security systems for the aged. But as the majority of the voters grow old, they do not offer support for the very reforms because they seem to fall out of their interests. Policies that are likely to cut down their unfunded amount of pension are frequently rejected by the elderly.
The older people are very active, and this poses an adverse representation. The major worry to the Australian population is the representation of the interests of the young and unborn generations (Hillman,2012). Addressing significant issues like; biodiversity loss, youth unemployment, climatic changes, and crumbled infrastructure are very crucial for continued prosperity. However, such an amendment is not given priority by the older voters (Aldredge,1955). The democratic voice of the youth is slowly shrinking, despite the importance of their interests to society.
The aging population is perceived to cause significant impacts on the Australian economy. The aged are thought to impose more stress on the healthcare services provided to the aged. Decreased or lack of workforce and reduced taxation have resulted in increased expenditure, revenue-making deficit, debt, and eventually economic downturn (Victor,1994).
Aging is a good reflection of both the physiological growing process and believes and attitudes about the whole aging process. Different categories of individuals including; young adults, and business people, have mixed feeling about the elderly (Hillier $ Barrow, 2014). Some of the stereotypes and attitudes portrayed within the Australian communities towards aging include; invisibility- a belief that one’s experience, opinions, and views are not well taken care of. Financial drain-the older adults are perceived to be a financial burden to the younger ones. Cognitive ability- a perception that the aged have a lower concept grasping power hence the longer time taken to learn a new task i.e. new technology adoption. Productivity- a feeling that the elderly do not contribute to workplaces (Gutheil,1994). Social capability- they are thought to be grumpy, boring, and short-tempered. Victimization- an impression that they are vulnerable to victimization.
The media constitutes TV watching, online streaming, internet browsing, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and reading magazines and newspapers. These social media platforms both visual and print poses an enormous influence on the attitude and perception toward the aging process. The media portrays the contrary view and understanding (Stewart $ Webster, 2011). For instance, feeling of Isolation and loneliness. Most of the time it is only young people that are glorified and used in advertising items. They are perceived to be sexy and beautiful, unlike the old ones who can only be used to bring out the hostility in movies. The media portrays them as; forgetful, victims, grumpy, old, sick, weak, vulnerable, slow, pensioners, and boring among others (Cowgil,1972).
Social theoretical approaches to aging support the reviewed article directly. Disengagement theory- the society is presumed to help the young people to take up the roles and the older people to leave their previous take other roles that suit their capability (Cumming,1961). Activity theory- is evident in the article when the older generations can’t accept other reforms based on their self-interests. Conflict theory- this explains the age-based discrimination and inequalities facing older people and arising from their ethnicity, gender, or social class. Some older adults are more affluent than others.
If I was 65 years old, am very sure this piece of work would make me feel social, economically, emotionally, and politically secluded. This feeling is because of people’s attitudes and stereotypes that are rampant within people toward the aging process. People have a feeling that old people are bad, slow, lonely, victims, grumpy, boring, helpless, stupid, fragile, and sick. This feeling also affects one’s emotions negatively thus one feels ignored, lonely, and isolated among others. This is traumatizing, right?
To close up, all human beings deserve better treatment by the people around them, be it pediatric, the aged, or an adult irrespective of their gender, social class, or ethnicity. The aging process happens to every living creature with the exclusion of none. Therefore, everyone has the right to be treated equally without creating a lousy attitude toward anyone. The best possible solution to make the aged people feel wanted and loved again is through mass media. The media can involve them in adverts and describe them as loving, caring, smart wise, and funny. Encouraging and positive representation- is needed to show respect to the elderly through the display of messages and images that reinforce their contribution to society. Finally, the media can break down their fear-based behavior and stereotypes by motivating them and encouraging them to be positive.
Arber, S. (2002). Connecting gender and ageing: A sociological approach. Buckingham [u.a.: Open Univ. Press.
Aldredge, G. J. (1955). The role of older people in a Florida retirement community
Australian Human Rights Commission, Fact or Fiction? Stereotypes of Older Australians, Research Report, 2013, Retrieved on 21st Feb, 21018 from https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/Fact%20or%20Fiction_2013_WebVersion_FINAL_0.pdf
Cowgill, D.O. and L.D. Holmes, eds. (1972). Aging and Modernization. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Crawford, K., & Walker, J. (2008). Social Work with Older People. London: SAGE Publications.
Cumming, E., & Henry, W. E. (1961). Growing old: The process of disengagement. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Gutheil, I. A. (1994). Work with older people: Challenges and opportunities. New York: Fordham University Press.
Hillman, J. L. (2012). Sexuality and aging: Clinical perspectives. New York: Springer.
Hillier, S. M., & Barrow, G. M. (2014). Aging, the Individual, and Society.
Hooyman, N. R., & Kiyak, H. A. (2011). Social gerontology: A multidisciplinary perspective (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Mariana Massey (2013). How Australia’s ageing population threatens our democracy – The Conversation, Retrieved on 21st Feb, 2018 from http://theconversation.com/how-australias-ageing-population-threatens-our-democracy-12209
Nelson, T. D., MIT Press., & Amazon.com. (2004). Ageism: Stereotyping and prejudice against older persons. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Powell, J. L. (2006). Social theory and aging. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publ.
Stewart, T., & Webster, N. (2011). Exploring cultural dynamics and tensions within service-learning. Charlotte, N.C: Information Age Pub.
Victor, C. R. (1994). Old age in modern society: A textbook of social gerontology. London: Chapman & Hall.