Sample Essay on Aging

Society has maintained a stereotypic and often negative perception of older adults. Society is in denial of aging, we distress furniture to make it look old, but pay thousands of dollars to erase wrinkles from our faces. To be young is to be alive, sexy, and energetic. To be old is to be senile, worthless, and over the hill. These are the stereotypes bestowed on the elderly.

Commonly used phrases as set in ones ways and blind as a bat signify old age as a period of impotency and incompetence. Ageism is the term used to describe this stereotype against the elderly. Ageism is the prejudice and discrimination against the elderly. Familiar stereotypes associated with the elderly include, illness, impotency, ugliness, mental decline, and uselessness. Society associates illness with old age, as we age we become weaker and the immune system slows. Society has the belief that old people do not have sex. We think that younger adults should have sex, not fragile elders. People spend thousands of dollars to look younger, old age is viewed as ugly.

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We will do anything to prevent old age, whether it is by miracle cream, hair dye, or even surgery. As one ages our memories with us, we may start to forget easier giving people the assumption that elders are declining mentally. Elders feel useless because, people may not allow them to live the life actively they used to live. However, positive stereotypes do exist. We view elders as good neighbors, thrifty, kind, and trustworthy.

Other cultures value their elders more than Americans. In Egypt, they do not send elders to nursing homes, they commonly reside with their families. Younger family members and society have needed and honored them. India’s elders are put before others. They see them as knowledgeable and have worked hard and deserve respect. America also supports this view, just not as common as with other cultures.

The 20th century have given us the gift of longevity. Life expectancy has increased by three decades, a phenomenon that is reshaping our families and our attitudes toward the elderly. The proportion of older people in the United States is growing. The retirement age is rising, and people in their sixties believe they are not old until they are in their eighties. This in turn is giving society a different view on old age. Commercials now show elders as handsome, attractive, and active people. More retirement villas are popping up instead of new nursing homes. More children are taking care of their parents who are in their eighties or even their nineties. Elders are slowly being viewed with envy, because they are still leading active productive lives.

Society uses ageism as a form of denial. No one is exempt from achieving the status of old. The question is how will we achieve aging? Will creams and surgeries guide us through, to avoid stereotypes. Or will we choose to grow old gracefully and accept the wrinkles and gray hair? This may be the minority of growing old. Then there will be a new set of stereotypes associated with old age.

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