Topics: Old age, Gerontology, Retirement Pages: 5 (1545 words) Published: April 16, 2013
People view stereotypes of old people differently, some as that old people are needy, unhappy, senile, inactive, and unable to learn new things and less useful their younger counterparts. Many old people fall victim to the stereotype because their younger generation takes them for granted to use, and abuse the elderly so that they can fall greed to reap their benefits wither its money or real-estate. These statements are stereotypes. However, Stereotypes are a set of beliefs which shape the way we think and behave in everyday life. Also, negative stereotypes such as the ones above, have an adverse effect on older people. Not only do they interfere with older people’s enjoyment in the latter part of life but they also have an l impact on people’s health and well-being as they age. Older Americans are faced with a variety of stereotypes. Literature Review

They are seen by many people as being feeble in mind and body and as economic burdens on society, and they are labeled such as “geezers”. Even though the average American has a lifespan of 76.5 years and those who reach the age of sixty-five can expect to live another eighteen years it is often believed that they have little to contribute once they reach their sixties. However, this stereotype exists not just in the United States, but in other nations as well. At one time, American attitudes toward the elderly were more positive. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the aging were respected because they helped transmit wisdom and tradition to the younger generations. They were given the best seats in church, and instructed youth on how to behave toward their elders. One reason that the aged garnered this respect was because there were so few of them in colonial society. Body

According to David Marshal, only two percent of the population at that time was over sixty-five years old. By the nineteenth century, American society had changed significantly. The elderly suffered as America progressed. The rise of an urban and industrialized nation meant that the skills and education of many of the aged were no longer useful. Because younger, healthier workers were more desirable for factories, mandatory retirement laws were passed as early as 1777(David Marshal). These laws forced the aging to leave their jobs, leading to poverty. Old-age homes were established for those elderly who were poor and had no family to look after them; such homes further isolated the elderly from society. The negative attitudes toward the elderly have continued into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Many aged persons are isolated from their families; the majority live alone or with their spouse, with 60 percent of women over the age of eighty-five living alone. Commercials and jokes frequently rely on stereotypes of the elderly, such as the belief that they are desperate to appear young and virile. Some people believe the Social Security system allows senior citizens to drain money away from tax-paying workers. However, for the aging Americans who do want to continue to work or return to the workplace, age discrimination often raises a barrier. In the book the Aged and Aging in America, Ursula A. Falk describe the plight of the elderly who are healthy and want to find work but are made irrelevant because of their age: “Since occupation and work are the principal criteria of social prestige in America, the old, by being excluded from work are therefore devalued.” The United States is not unique in its attitudes toward the elderly (Ursula A. Falk). In other cultures and nations, the rise of urban industrialization has led to similar results. In African and Asian nations, when those countries were largely rural, older relatives used to live with their children and grandchildren. However, the limited space of urban housing makes such intergenerational homes less practical and less desirable. As a consequence, the elderly in these countries have lost their status in the...
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