There is nowhere along the age span where you were a better, more valuable person than you are now. And it’s not going away: we are living longer than ever before. “The kids drive me crazy asking how old I am,” said 80-year-old Detroit schoolteacher Penny Kyle. That has to change. We ask partly out of sheer habit, carried over from childhood, when a month was an eternity and each year marked developmental changes and new freedoms. One out of four American adults has some type of disability, Black Panthers did in 1977 by bringing supplies and cooked meals to the over 100 disabled protesters who occupied the San Francisco H.E.W offices for almost a month, We’re all Old People in Training, whether we know it yet or not, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, A short riff on hearing impairment, face masks, and being a good ally, Breonna Taylor, a Black EMT, was murdered in her bed at 26 years old. We can do better and we’d ALL benefit if we did do better! She and Theresa Dintino created Nasty Women Writers, where the review first appeared, “to amplify the voices and messages of powerful women . But you sure wouldn’t know it from the way the media and public health advisories turn the vast and varied 60+ population into “the [frail/vulnerable/dependent] elderly.” And it’s not the real reason. What if he’s only 24, but reading the story we might think he’s 60?”. What do we fear most of all? A little confusion could rattle assumptions about what people are capable of at a given stage of life or what they have in common across age divides, which would be all to the good. “Like the ongoing movements that continue to challenge entrenched systems of racism and sexism, overcoming ageism is going to take a lot of determined people of all ages working to overturn “the way things are.” That means a lot of uncomfortable reassessments, difficult conversations, and outright conflict, not just over healthcare and housing but about when we stop valuing people, and why – not because we grow old, but because we do so in an ageist world. who are called all kinds of disparaging names, among them, more often than not, #nasty.” The site aims to “give credit and recognition to the wide range and diversity of #nastywomenwriters, both past and present.” I’m honored and delighted to be one of them. She has done the heavy lifting, exposing the many facets of this prejudice and for that I am very grateful. “So here are these bunch of kids and they see an old guy, right? Contact: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | RSS | Email Ashton, Still Kicking: Confronting Ageism and Ableism in the Pandemic’s Wake, https://covidtracking.com/data/long-term-care, https://www.npr.org/2020/06/09/872401607/covid-19-infections-and-deaths-are-higher-among-those-with-intellectual-disabili, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/05/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-nursing-homes-deaths.html. The necessary alternative—imperative, even—is to educate ourselves about cognitive decline, and learn to talk about it openly and accurately. That culture has to change, because the current climate of secrecy and complicity is a problem for everyone. It undoes the “otherness” that powers ageism (and racism and nationalism). In a world increasingly segregated by race and class as well as by age, reaching over those divisions to acknowledge the one path we’ll all travel is a radical act. It means working against the human tendency to underestimate how much we’ll change in the future. It must be done if we are to take upon ourselves the entirety of our human state.”. The real reason is that we act as though people with disabilities don’t grow old and olders never become disabled—and an ageist and ableist culture gives us cover. Remember the early messaging about the virus? And when people aren’t visible, whether ghettoized or homebound, whether by choice or reluctantly, so are the issues that affect them”(192). How basic is that? There has to be a shift in national priorities if we want to improve the quality of our longer lives. The vast majority of people are not lazy as children, not lazy as adolescents, and not lazy as adults at any age. You can support your local bookstore by ordering it from IndieBound or Bookshop. It’s a big ask, but we cannot dismantle ageism without dismantling ableism, and racism, and sexism and all the rest, because  these systems reinforce and depend on each other. Ageist and ableist assumptions—that aging is awful and disability is tragic—harm every older and/or developmentally disabled person, no matter their age or place in the world. Ashton Applewhite is a leading voice in an emerging movement dedicated to dismantling ageism and honoring age as a vibrant and necessary aspect of diversity. For most of us—including me, so stay tuned to this blog—that means learning more about disability. As modern medicine saves people who once would have died, more disabled people are reaching adulthood and beyond. “It is just another essential fact to include about the subjects we cover. Unless we challenge the stigma, we reproduce it”(9). Then ask what difference the number makes”(52). In the words of disability justice advocate Dr. Angel Love Miles, “Intersectionality demands that we work towards the liberation of everyone.”, Nowhere are the consequences of belonging to more than one marginalized group more tragically evident than in the havoc COVID19 continues to wreak in long-term care facilities—which, like the rest of our healthcare system, had already been largely privatized and set up to fail. They’re in the grips of a cruel paradox: They aspire to grow old yet they dread the prospect. She blogs at This Chair Rocks, speaks widely around the world, has written for … “If someone assumes that we’re “too young”: ageism cuts both ways, and young people experience a lot of it. Let’s call these programs what they are – all-age friendly. I want to be age queer by rejecting not my age but the fixed meanings that people assign to it. In the United States, ageism has subverted it, impoverishing youngers as well as olders. This goes for the baby who is now 5 and the 30-year-old who is now 50. Ashton Applewhite is a #Nasty Woman Writer and Activist! But it is real, which makes it easier to tackle than something nonexistent: the imaginary failings which these systems created and need us to believe in. In her book A Long Bright Future: An Action Plan for a Lifetime of Happiness, Health, and Financial Security, psychologist Laura Carstensen describes the importance of generating realistic, humane visions of our future selves — what we’ll want to be doing and be capable of — and embarking on the tasks and changes and sacrifices that will get us there. This statement hit me hard and I am now keenly aware of when I experience this distaste for my aging self. Like all discrimination, ageism legitimizes and sustains inequalities between groups, in this case, between the young and the no-longer-young. Author and activist Ashton Applewhite has been recognized by the New York Times, The New Yorker, National Public Radio, and the American Society on Aging as an expert on ageism. Most of us will end up somewhere in the middle, slowed but able to enjoy our lives and make our way in the world—like Feinstein, who is 13 days short of being the oldest member of Congress. That’s what’s going on when people grumble about lazy Millennials or complain that “kids are like that”(9). As the article pointed out, “declining male senators, including Strom Thurmond, of South Carolina, and Robert Byrd, of West Virginia, were widely known by the end of their careers to be non-compos mentis.” Is Feinstein facing harsher criticism because of her gender? This means culture change: mobilizing against the dual stigma of age and disability, starting between our ears. But they overlap in ethically and tactically important ways: There are a lot of us, and our numbers are growing. Ever. Most forgetfulness is not Alzheimer’s, or dementia, or even necessarily a sign of cognitive impairment. When I experience this, I turn it around to an appreciation of this stage of the life span, one where there is no shortage of ambition, joy, and beauty, if we chose to see it, as we do in the other phases of life. Author and activist Ashton Applewhite has been recognized by the New York Times, The New Yorker, National Public Radio, and the American Society on Aging as an expert on ageism.She blogs at This Chair Rocks, speaks widely around the world, has written for Harper's and Playboy, and is the voice of Yo, Is This Ageist? We ask because age functions as a convenient shorthand, a way to contextualize accomplishments and calibrate expectations. I don’t write them very often, no spam, and it’s easy to unsubscribe. The younger vote went to the Remain camp in Thursday’s fateful referendum, while older voters opted for Leave. As Simone de Beauvoir put it: “If we do not know who we are going to be, we cannot know who we are: Let us recognize ourselves in this old man or in that old woman. A couple of parting quotes from Applewhite’s manifesto to further entice you to read and share it: “It’s harder to unlearn than to learn, especially when it comes to values. When asked for your age, identify as “age-nonconforming.”, Author and environmental activist Colin Beavan did something similar when he announced on Facebook that he was “coming out as age queer. Ashton Applewhite’s plenary address at the 2013 New York State Adult Abuse Training Institute was compelling and original, and really resonated with our 400 participants. She is an articulate and committed voice for an important cause: challenging the demoralizing shadow that … That struggle is essential if we want to create a world in which people can find meaning and purpose at every stage of life”(Applewhite 241). Unless we challenge the stigma, we reproduce it”(9). Why should age be any dif­ferent? This thoughtful review, the kind every writer dreams of, was written by Maria Dintino. So, here’s yet another thought experiment: How about learning from the disability rights movement and conceiving of ourselves as “people with age” instead of as X- or Y-year-olds? I love the culture hack, but I want to modify it because identifying as 37 (still “young”) is a form of denial. A mandate of the disability justice movement is to stand in solidarity with other marginalized groups, as the Black Panthers did in 1977 by bringing supplies and cooked meals to the over 100 disabled protesters who occupied the San Francisco H.E.W offices for almost a month, and as the Black Lives Matter movement is doing now by supporting the rights of transgender and Indigenous people. Watch Crip Camp and learn about disability culture. Age becomes just another attribute, like being a good speller or a Filipino or a Cubs fan. It’s lazy, though, and utterly unreliable, and arguably impertinent. I agree with Anne Lamott, one of my all-time favorite writers, who says, “I never use the word empower, but this book has empowered me”(Hill). Let’s get one thing straight, aging not a bad thing! She blogs at This Chair Rocks, speaks widely around the world, has written for … People with fact- rather than fear-based attitudes towards aging are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s—even if they have the gene that predisposes them to the disease. Applewhite has been recognized by The New York Times, National Public Radio, the New Yorker, and the American Society on Aging as an expert on ageism. I want to be age queer by rejecting not my age but the fixed meanings that people assign to it. I have made a personal commitment to combat ageism when I see it, hear it, and ignorantly perpetuate it. We’re all Old People in Training, whether we know it yet or not, and our numbers will swell as we reject demeaning stereotypes and claim our aging selves. More about the book here. Ashton Applewhite and Jane Caro AM share insights on ageism Internationally recognised expert and author on ageism Ashton Applewhite and Walkley Award winner Jane Caro today shared their perspectives on how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed ageist attitudes, ageism in employment, and what people can do to tackle this social injustice. Shame can damage self-esteem and quality of life as much as externally imposed stereotyping. At the heart of the matter is a deeper one: why do we avoid discussing and dealing compassionately with cognitive decline? This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. Author and activist Ashton Applewhite has been recognized by the New York Times, The New Yorker, National Public Radio, and the American Society on Aging as an expert on ageism. (Rep. Dan Young is also 87.) That’s why my new talk, Still Kicking: Confronting Ageism and Ableism in the Pandemic’s Wake, tackles dual stigma and the potential for collective liberation. Reprinted with the permission of Celadon Books, a division of Macmillan Publishing, LLC. Some people are born with this awareness, and so have longer to develop the capacities that will serve them well later in life, capacities such as the ability to keep making new friends, to value internal resources, and to be able to let go, says writer and medical sociologist Anne Karpf. As an Old Person in Training, I see the 90-year-old me as withered and teetery but also curious and content. As author Ashton Applewhite might have predicted, however, there are fault lines newly highlighted along generational divides, as well as in so many other sectors of the British population.. Here’s a different way to think about it: The pandemic isn’t making ageism and ableism worse, it’s exposing what’s been all around us all along—and giving us a historic opportunity to build on that awareness. [i] More than 120,000 long-term care workers and residents have died, “This Is Why Nursing Homes Failed So Badly,” by E. Tammy Kim, New York Times, Dec 31, 2020, [ii] Less than 1% of America’s population lives in long-term care facilities, The COVID Tracking Project, Atlantic magazine, Dec 31, 2020, https://covidtracking.com/data/long-term-care. This is not a partisan issue. It would be convenient to attribute that omission to the fact that most older people are not disabled (true but complicated). It takes a few weeks, but everybody forgets. 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