This past weekend I attended what turned out to be a really interesting event sponsored by the City of Brevard (NC) in collaboration with Brevard College. The event, Age Exchange, centered around the differences in cultures when it comes to the generations.
I learned some interesting things. For example, did you know that ageism is the most widely accepted prejudice of all the “isms”? 80% of older adults have expressed that they have experienced some form of ageism. That is an incredibly high percentage, isn’t it?
The panel was truly great. I grabbed this picture from a Facebook post from the city just so I could remember who was there to present.
One of the most interesting things that was shared were these “word clouds” that Dr. Paula Hartman-Stein shared. She asked her students in one of her classes to give her words that described older adults. This is what they came up with.
Now some of those words are not really complimentary, are they? But these were the most frequent choices that came up from the class. Fortunately, after a semester of learning including one on one match ups with older adults, the class realized something. Not all of those initial words were really representative of older adults after all. Towards the end of the class the students were asked to complete the same assignment and this was the word cloud that resulted.
MUCH more complimentary, right? And all it took was some teaching and some interaction with those older adults to change the perception. I am hopeful that this intergenerational series here in Brevard will continue to challenge all age groups and allow us to come together to appreciate and enjoy one another and the common experiences that we share.
I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the different cultures and how they treat their elders. We as Americans would be wise to take some lessons from the Cherokees and Japanese in my humble opinion. The college students were well spoken and articulate and it was great to see a room filled with 85 + people of all ages who are invested in learning more about bridging the gap. If you live in the area and are interested in attending there will be 3 more sessions held on February 17, March 2nd and April 6th which will address different topics all centering around Age Exchange.
How do you think our older adults are treated? Have you been a subject of ageism? Or are you guilty of fostering ageism in some way? Our language definitely needs to shift to not demean our older adults, but to honor them. Let me know what you think in the comments and Comment for a Cause for The Family Place.