Stereotypes of aging got reinforced with this photo that got uploaded to Facebook today. I wrote :
“Another ageist stereotype. The man in the cartoon isn’t a 67-year old. Many – perhaps most – people in their late 60s do not need help. A lot of people in their 80s could dash up those steps. We don’t make fun of Asian, gay or black people. Why older folks?”
The response was predictable: “Perhaps we ought to have a sense of humor about our own health problems.”
So I wrote again:
“The danger of laughing at “our aches and pains” is that we tend to attribute health issues to aging when they’re more likely to be related to activity, food or side effects of medication.
“The problem is, when you encourage people to laugh at older people, then ALL older people won’t be taken seriously when they apply for a job or tell the doctors “No thanks, I don’t want that test.”
“The price of ‘cute’ is being treated like a child or a puppy.
“It’s like black people and watermelon jokes. Or jokes about women drivers, which used to be considered appropriate. It seems harmless till you realize the hidden message.”