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Letter: Recognize, end problem of ageism

Since June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month, I thought it would be appropriate to shed light on the topic of ageism, a form of discrimination and prejudice specifically experienced by seniors.

Our elders are commonly stereotyped as senile and outdated. Until recently, I hadn’t noticed or recognized the signs of ageism.

After volunteering at a nursing home and hearing the residents describe examples of how ageism has affected their lives, it has given me new insight into the plight of our seniors. The issue is not solely confined by the limits of one-on-one conversations. Ageism is routinely popularized in television shows, movies and other forms of media.

Commonly, the roles of elderly individuals are type-cast into the grouchy, stubborn, helpless caricatures. Even birthday cards meant to portray a humorous imitation of aging fall flat and give the shopper a means of perpetuating the stereotype without considering the long-term consequences. Society doesn’t promote aging in a positive light.

We can combat this issue by encouraging active aging and letting go of ageism concepts. A proactive way to start is to help the elderly stay engaged with life by showing them respect, admiration and the dignity they deserve.

In turn, those who have felt the backlash of ageism may feel welcomed to share their caring advice, friendship and wisdom. They have a bountiful wealth of experience to share, if you choose to visit and volunteer to show the elderly they matter in your community.

Griesbach lives in Hunter, N.D.