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Inside The Senior Alliance: Ageism 101 with Ayana King (Ep 32)

Emma Case (00:00):
Welcome to Inside The Senior Alliance, a podcast exploring resources and issues in the field of aging. I’m Emma Case, Planning and Advocacy Specialist at the Senior Alliance, the Area Agency on Aging serving Southern and Western Wayne County. Joining me today is founder and CEO of Maximum Communications, and a member of our Board of Directors, Ayana King. Ayana, welcome to the podcast.

Ayana King (00:19):
Good morning Emma, and thanks for having me this morning.

Emma Case (00:22):
Thank you for joining us. As a diversity and equity inclusion consultant I wanted to have you on this episode to discuss all things related to ageism. So first, can you explain what ageism is and who it affects?

Ayana King (00:33):
Definitely. Simply put, ageism is discrimination based on someone’s age, and ageism affects anyone from any age demographic or generation.

Emma Case (00:44):
People of all ages show bias towards older adults. What are the typical aging stereotypes that you tend to see?

Ayana King (00:50):
Well, definitely I feel like you see ageism most often with older adults. And also I’ll say in recent years, certainly ageism directed at millennials and those younger and the stereotypes range depending on the age generation. But if we’re talking about older people, there is this perception that older people are somehow unable to learn new things, new concepts. They are incapable of appreciating new experiences. People somehow think that older adults are often frail and all of these are really harmful.

Emma Case (01:28):
How do these mentally and physically affect older adults when they hear these stereotypes?

Ayana King (01:32):
I mean, quite often we see that older adults will retreat, they go inward. There is a lot of information that’s now coming out about loneliness, and loneliness really affects older adults. One of the reasons why is because maybe if you are a person who is experiencing ageism, especially in the workplace and some of these stereotypes have been directed at you, you know what may cause you to be anxious. And you know, it’s really, you can understand why people would retreat.

Emma Case (02:02):
If an older adult is experiencing ageism at work, in the community or if they see it happening, what’s the best way that they can respond to that situation?

Ayana King (02:10):
That’s a really good question. And I wanted to first say that there is no one correct way to respond to ageism. For some people, they may respond by using the exit strategy and just removing themselves from that situation. Other people may be more direct and confront the person who is the perpetrator of ageism. Still, other people might ask a question like, what do you mean when you said this thing? Right? Because that then gives them an opportunity, the perpetrator to sort of reexamine what they said. And it also gives the person experiencing ageism and opportunity to share new information with the person who is aiming that aggression, because that’s what it is, microaggression as well at the older adult.

Emma Case (02:55):
So as I’m listening to talk, I’m realizing within myself some ageism that I have either fed into or misconceptions about ageism. So for other listeners, what can we do to combat ageism? How can we be a better advocate for older adults in regards to ageism?

Ayana King (03:12):
Yeah, first of all, I applaud you for recognizing that, and I think that’s the number one thing we can do. Whether we are recognizing ageism or racism or ableism, the first step is becoming aware that I have these thoughts. So kudos to you. I think the next thing we can do is educate ourselves. Sometimes we have all of these misconceptions about people. We, you know, discriminate against people because we don’t understand them. So think about your friendship circles, even if you are someone from a younger generation, including older people in your friend networks, or in your professional networks. The way that we fight all types of discrimination is by learning about one another.

Emma Case (03:56):
What can we say to someone who asks if ageism is really an issue?

Ayana King (04:00):
Oh, <laugh>. I would respectfully say to that person, look around, ageism is real. And again, although it can affect any person from any age group, we see ageism directed towards young people in the workplace often as well. It does affect older people, I think, on a wider scale. And if you need an example of how this happens, we really only need to look at what happened during the pandemic and who was affected for how long. And again, I bring up different types of discrimination because as we are fighting ageism, we should also be fighting and prioritizing racism, and ableism and all the forms of discrimination because if you are experiencing ageism, think about what other forms of discrimination an individual would also be experiencing. It’s real and it’s all around us. We live in a society that is really obsessed with youth, and so we have to challenge ourselves about the things that we think and how we respond in situations.

Emma Case (05:04):
Anna, thank you for joining me on this episode. This has been super educational, not only for myself, but I hope for our listeners as well.

Ayana King (05:11):
Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed this and I hope that people will continue to fight ageism in again, all forms of discrimination.

Emma Case (05:18):
If you have any questions about our services or programs The Senior Alliance offers, you can call us at 734-722-2830 or email us at info@thesenioralliance.org. Information about our agency or the programs and services we offer can found on our website at www.thesenioralliance.org. On Facebook, we can be located by searching for the Senior Alliance. Finally, our Twitter handle is @AAA1C. I’m Emma Case. Thank you for listening to this episode of Inside the Senior Alliance.

Inside the Senior Alliance is a production of the Senior Alliance and Blazing Kiss Media.

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