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Overcoming Ageism & Rediscovering Life Purpose


Overcoming Ageism & Rediscovering Life Purpose Michael Faber Grand Rapids Community College THE PROBLEM: AGEISM AGEISM AGEISM What Is It? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Overcoming Ageism & Rediscovering Life Purpose

Overcoming Ageism Rediscovering Life Purpose
  • Michael Faber
  • Grand Rapids Community College


What Is It?
  • As with the isms of racism and sexism, ageism is
  • a set of beliefs, attitudes, social institutions,
  • acts that denigrate individuals or groups based
  • on their chronological age. The components of
  • ageism represent stereotypic views of different
  • age groups and theoretically could apply to
  • teenagers as well as to older persons. However,
  • for all practical purposes, ageism is used as a
  • term referring to stereotyped views of older
  • persons.

What Is It?
  • The negative feature of ageism is that, like
  • stereotypes, it involves making
  • overgeneralizations about individuals based on
  • outward characteristics that they possess.
  • Frequently these older persons then become
  • victims of acts, behaviors, and statements that
  • demean them. Hence they become victims of
  • discrimination in employment, education, and
  • government. They therefore become judged not
  • by their abilities but by their age.

  • The Perpetuation of Myths and Stereotypes of
    Aging by
  • Societya learned behavior
  • Older persons themselvesa self-fulfilling
  • Well meaning educators and professionals

  • A paradigm shift brought about by
  • Education of society
  • Aging individualsaccept and embrace aging as a
    dynamic, productive part of the life cycle the
    power of the Baby Boomers as a change agent
  • The impact and role of professionals

  • Questions for self-reflection
  • Do I hold any stereotypical views of aging and
    older persons?
  • In my work, words, and actions do I dispel or
    perpetuate ageist myths and stereotypes?
  • What can I do to create societal change?

Do You View Aging Like This
Or Like This
Helping Older Persons to Re-discover their
Life Purpose
Jim Emerman, former researcher with the American
Society on Aging said
  • To be successful in the aging process one needs
    purpose in life whether one finds that in
    faith-based organizations, political activity,
    involvement in the arts and humanities, or in
    volunteerism. Purpose resonates with health and
  • Aging Today, September/October 2006

Purpose is Defined As
  • Purpose is a result, end, aim, or goal of an
    action intentionally undertaken, or of an object
    being brought into use or existence, whether or
    not the purpose was a primary or secondary
    effect. It is possible that an intentional act
    may have multiple purposes, only one of which is
    a primary intention while the remainder are
    secondary intentions.
  • From Wikipedia

What Is Life Purpose?
  • It is the primary reason for ones existence
  • It is what one is here to DO while they are alive
  • It is the 'overarching meaning of ones life'
    that shapes them and all that they do (as
    expressed in all areas of ones life, not just a
    few areas like a job or primary role)
  • Its ones own personal Mission Statement

At the center of a person who is aging
successfully with life purpose is
  • A sense of well-being that comes from living with
    purpose and joy
  • The ability to deal effectively with lifes
    dangers and challenges
  • Sustaining positive, meaningful, and dynamic
  • The ability to rekindle the passions of ones
    youth, which were reduced or lost because of
    pressures of parenting and jobs

Yale University Study 660 persons age 50
(AARP March/April 2007)
  • People who viewed aging positively lived an
    average of 7.5 years longer than those without a
    positive view of agingthey focused on the good
    things of life such as wisdom instead of their
    aches and pains.

Yale University Study 660 persons age 50
(AARP March/April 2007)
  • The role of personality in lifes trajectory
    cannot be overstated. Optimism, good humor,
    curiosity, energy and intellectual involvement
    are associated with healthy aging.

Yale University Study 660 persons age 50
(AARP March/April 2007)
  • One should think of their possible selvesthink
    of the ideal that they hope to be and have a plan
    to fulfill that image.

Beyond the Myths of Aging People Need People
Social factors play an equally significant role
in aging as does exercise and good
nutrition. Unmarried males with less than 6
friends or relatives who do not participate in
community networks are at increased risk for
death from heart disease, stroke, accidents and
suicide. Those with social networks live longer
after cardiovascular episodes. Those with strong
relationships have less mental decline and live
more active, pain-free lives without physical
limitation. Harvard Public Review (2000)
People Need People
  • Elderly people who live alone, have no friends,
    or have poor relationships with their children
    are 60 more likely to develop dementia than
    those with satisfying social contact.
  • Social connectedness is among the most important
    predictors of health and independence as we
    agealmost as strong as not smoking or being
  • Experts speculate that social isolation may
    create a chronically stressful condition to which
    the organism responds by aging faster.
  • The authors of Successful Aging agree human
    beings are not meant to live solitary
    livestalking, touching, and relating to others
    is essential to our well-being.
  • Harvard Public Review (2000)

Study Links Seniors Loneliness to Higher Risk of
  • According to Dr. Robert Wilson of the Rush
    University Medical Center in Chicago, in a study
    of 323 eighty year olds, those who described
    themselves as lonely were twice as likely to
    develop dementia.
  • USA Today (2/6/07)

The Value of Friendship
  • Friendship is important to maintaining the health
    of older persons.
  • Having a strong circle of friends is good for the
    heart and can strengthen the auto-immunological
  • People who have one or more good friends have
    better health than those who have casual or no
  • One close friend can help relieve stress,
    depression, and isolation, as well as provide
    emotional support.
  • However, if one wants to have a friend one must
    be friendly. One must get involved.

George E. Vailiant in his book Aging Well found
  • Social aptitude or emotional intelligence rather
    than brilliance or genetics or wealth leads to a
    well-adapted old age.
  • He also found that healing relationships are
    facilitated by a capacity for love, gratitude and

Aging Well Aging with Enthusiasm Life
Purpose (Aphorisms and Proverbs on AgingIgnore
them at your peril)
  • People retire. Minds dont.
  • Why you age is up to nature. How you age is up
    to you.
  • Anger management prevents unkind words from
    developing into a life sentence.
  • Retirement is more a state of mind than a stage
    of life.

  • Aging Well Aging with Enthusiasm Life
    Purpose (Aphorisms and Proverbs on AgingIgnore
    them at your peril)
  • Its a matter of fact that we positively age.
    Its a matter of choice that we age positively.
  • Optimists age like wine. Pessimists age like
  • A fundamental flaw in modern medicine is doctors
    dont get paid unless you are sick.
  • Life-span is how long you can live. Life
    expectancy is how long youre likely to live.

  • Aging Well Aging with Enthusiasm Life
    Purpose (Aphorisms and Proverbs on AgingIgnore
    them at your peril)
  • If you cannot change your life, then why not
    change the way you live it?
  • If you wont try until youre absolutely ready,
    all you will ever achieve is a state of
  • If you dont start somewhere you will end up
    nowhere near anywhere.
  • The best way to preserve your youth is to
    preserve your sense of curiosity and wonder.

Aging Well Aging with Enthusiasm Life
Purpose (Aphorisms and Proverbs on AgingIgnore
them at your peril)
  • If you are smart, you answer the question. If
    you are wise, you question the answer.
  • What you dont know can hurt you.
  • Planning makes retirement work.
  • Successful retirement depends on what you retire
    to, not from.

  • The old adage remains
  • true
  • If You Fail to Plan
  • Then You Plan to Fail

  • Purpose Statement (Should incorporate ones
    values/guiding principles)
  • Short Term Goals (6 to 12 months)
  • Action Steps (necessary to meet short term goals)
  • Long Term Goals (3 to 5 years)
  • Action Steps (necessary to meet long term goals)

  • Life is like a ten-speed bike. Most of us have
    gears we never use.
  • Charles Schultz

How Do You Measure Up?
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