Caryl Greenberg, MSW, LSW
Changing our Narrative on Ageism
Many of us have had the experience of feeling disrespected because of our age. A doctor responds to your daughter even though you asked the question, a sales clerk speaks to you loudly assuming you have a hearing impairment or
a waiter refers to you as ‘young lady/man’ and so on. Ageism is the stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against people on the basis of their age. Ageism is everywhere, yet it is the most socially “normalized” of any prejudice, and is not widely countered – like racism or sexism. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently came out with a study that suggests that negative or ageist attitudes towards older people are not only widespread but they also negatively affect older people’s physical and mental health. More than 83,000 people in 57 countries took part in the survey, which assessed attitudes to older people across all age groups. John Beard, WHO Director of Ageing and Life Course says, ’Like sexism and racism, changing social norms is possible. It is time to stop defining people by their age; it will result in more prosperous, equitable and healthier societies. Older people who feel they are a burden perceive their lives to be less valuable, putting them at risk of depression and social isolation. Most of us are probably not aware that we likely perpetuate ageism in our everyday conversations. Have you ever said ‘Wow, you look great for 70, or ‘60 is the new 40’ putting value on youth thereby demeaning older age? This ‘ism’ will affect everyone so we are all in this one together. Let us change the narrative about ageism and recognize the value in all of us.
Diversity and Acceptance
Let’s be honest. Most of us have preconceived notions of each other based on our differences. Is it really fair to judge a person based on where someone comes from, what language they speak or what they look like? ‘Of course it is not fair’. The cliché ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ has never been more fitting than it is today. The notable Dalai Lama has this to say, ‘When I meet a
new person, I always believe we are the same; we are all human beings, consisting of the human body and the human mind. Our physical structure is the same and our mind and our emotional nature is also the same. I find it much easier to communicate with others when I relate to them as humans. When I say I am a Buddhist then there are differences. Those things are important but secondary. If the differences are put aside, then exchange of ideas and shared experiences are easily communicated.’ So what does this have to do with the senior center and you? We are a culturally rich environment. Look around next time you are here. Are you ever curious about others? Maybe their ancestors have been in America for several generations. Maybe this is the first time a family has put down roots in this country. Maybe their struggles have been similar to yours. Instead of having preconceived notions, let’s learn about each other. When we relate as humans, we discover similarities. When we take the time to learn about cultures and religions we enrich our knowledge
base and gain an appreciation of the world and the individual that we are learning from. So why did I entitle this ‘Diversity and Acceptance’ instead of ‘Diversity and Tolerance’? Tolerance makes me think that I have to accept something because those are the rules. But why just ‘tolerate’ others? Why not go a step further
and accept them? That is our challenge- next time you come to
the center think about all the similarities you have with others
and if you are wondering about the differences embrace them,
get in touch with your curious side and learn about each other.
Join A Group...
What's on Your Mind
"What's On Your Mind" meets on Fridays at 2:15 p.m. to discuss current events and information that interests you. We welcome new members. You can drop in anytime. Call Caryl for more information.
Monthly Bereavement Support Group
Ongoing support group which meets the first Monday of every month at 11:45. Participants offer mutual support to each other as we share our struggles and grief in a safe non-judgmental venue.
The Senior Center also offers a six week Bereavement Support Group when there has been a more recent loss of a significant other. Please call Caryl for more information.
A weekly group using literature as a conduit for discussion. Participants share thoughts and feelings about what they have read and relate it ‘if applicable’ to their life experience. We meet every Thursday (except the first Thursday of the month) at 10:30 am. Please call Caryl for more information.
VISION LOSS SUPPORT GROUP
Meets the first Friday of every month at 10:30 a.m. in the conference room. This is an opportunity to meet new people, share information and benefit from mutual support.
Veterans age 55 + meet monthly to share stories and strive to re-create the camaraderie that is experienced when sharing a common bond. This group meets monthly on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 10:45 a.m.
Social Work Services
As more individuals are choosing to ‘age in place’, the senior center offers ‘home visits’ by the Social Worker to the HOMEBOUND elderly. We can provide limited case management services, emotional support and counseling. Many issues include loss, care giving concerns and tensions, coping with health problems, relationship issues, independence, depression, substance abuse, isolation and more. The Social Worker also sees individuals and couples on site. Please contact Caryl Greenberg for further information.
I am now a NOTARY PUBLIC in the state of NJ. If you need something to be notarized, free of cost, to ensure you are not disappointed please call first to make sure I am in.