In March this year, the World Health Organisation released its Global Report on Ageism. It found that one in two people are ageist against older people. This is confronting and many people would probably dispute this fact. However; if we reflect honestly on today’s society, we can see that ageism is far more pervasive than we may have first believed.
It starts when we are young, referring to the ‘olden days’ – usually a time that existed before your parents, recorded in black and white or sepia tones, without many of the modern conveniences of life.
When we talk about music or popular culture, it is common to deride eras that are not our own. Your favourite music or pastimes are often reflective of times of joy in your life. Why is it that when people think of aged care services, it evokes the sounds of Vera Lynn or Benny Goodman and not Elvis or the Beatles or even Led Zeppelin?
Sometimes ageism is demonstrated in what we don’t do, like delivering on a promise of services.
Aged care residents and staff were rightly given first priority in the COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy. In the light of recent clusters in Victoria and New South Wales, commentators have been outraged that staff and residents in aged care homes haven’t yet been fully vaccinated.
While it is pleasing to have more people join the call for action, it would have been more helpful months ago, when it became apparent that very few staff would be included in the in-reach vaccination clinics. It is disappointing that the logistics planning for the vaccination roll out missed the mark; another sign of lack of consideration for older people and what it takes to offer a suitable response to this age group.
All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and like many other forms of discrimination, examples of ageism are evident in the way we speak or how we treat each other.
So perhaps it is time to acknowledge our own ageism and listen and enjoy the music for what it is, rather than being too concerned about the release date.