Ageist stereotypes are alive and well according to a recent depressing survey from financial services company Engage Mutual. They conducted a study with 2,000 people of all ages in Great Britain looking at perceptions of age and what people think are the ‘give-aways’ of getting old.
The top three signs of ageing highlighted by the poll were: falling asleep in front of the television, feeling stiff, and groaning when you bend down. Others included struggling to use technology, choosing clothes and shoes for comfort rather than style, and starting to drive very slowly.
Although some indicators such as forgetting people’s names, and losing hair (baldness) – while at the same time becoming more hairy (ears, face, eyebrows, nose etc.) – are regrettably unavoidable, the majority of the factors are behavioural. They can be overturned by older people making the effort to do things differently such as stopping groaning when you bend down/stand up, not talking about “senior moments”, and ceasing unnecessary complaining.
Why should we? Well, it would be good to pass this off as a light-hearted survey of older people’s charming idiosyncracies (perhaps no 21 was lacking a sense of humour about ageing?) – but unfortunately the problem goes deeper than that.
If people of all ages still think of older people in these terms (including older people themselves), no wonder our prospects on the job market are so poor.
top 20 signs of getting old
1. falling asleep in front of the television
2. feeling stiff
3. groaning when you bend down
4. losing your hair
5. hating noisy pubs
6. thinking teachers / policemen / doctors look really young
7. becoming more hairy – ears, face, eyebrows, nose etc.
8. struggling to use technology
9. forgetting people’s names
10. not knowing any songs in the top 10
11. choosing clothes and shoes for comfort rather than style
12. you start driving very slowly
13. drinking sherry
14. when you start complaining more about things
15. joining the Women’s Institute
16. misplacing your glasses / bag / car keys
17. you talk to colleagues who are so young they don’t know what an opal fruit is
18. listening to the Archers
19. moving from Radio One to Radio Two
20. allowing yourself a mid-afternoon nap