The Age of Disruption 2016 Tour is a modern day American Chautaqua movement barnstorming the country in a rock n’ roll tour bus to bring communities a new and highly disruptive understanding of aging. Join Dr. Bill Thomas and crew for a day of education, entertainment and inspiration.
Special thanks to our local sponsors:
Charlotte, NC - Apr 20, 2016
Our Time in Charlotte
In Charlotte, Dr. Bill Thomas posed this challenge to the group:
Language has a very powerful impact on reality and in a lot of ways shapes our reality.
Bill then asked the group for their thoughts on how ageism in language needs to be disrupted. The words that came up may surprise you.
Terms of Endearment — such as honey, sweetie, cutie — were singled out as a way of violating the personal space and identity of elders. The group said that terms of endearment are beloved and deserved between people of close relationship, but when those terms are applied to strangers it’s a way that personal boundaries are eroded and destroyed.
The solution to ‘well what should we call them?’ was simple — ‘Whatever they want to be called.’ Illuminating this further was the recognition that during the journey of dementia this preferred name may change.
Memory Care – many people living with dementia wish we would stop calling it memory care as it focuses on the deficit and is a misnomer. People living with dementia in these communities come there to live and feel stigmatized by the focus being on ‘care’ and ‘memory.’
Retired – The root of retirement was a term used by knights when they sheath their sword and it was no longer used. This etymological beginning sets us up for the agist myth that people in so called retirement are not contributing to society. We are told to look forward to retirement as a heaven or afterlife of sorts post hard work in a career. But once we achieve this status suddenly retired is a pejorative. It is used as a binary when the lived experience is more of a spectrum. This insidious definition takes away opportunity from trailblazers to continue seeking purpose post career.
Dying – We talk about people who are dying as if they are in a different space than the rest of us when we are all dying in actuality. Living has a 100% mortality rate.
Aging – Is used as if it is something that happens to you after you are 65 and yet no one got to 65 without aging on the way. Aging becomes ageist when it is used to diminish someone. Aging is part of the human condition. The process goes across the lifespan.
Senior – There is a connotation with senior that doesn’t feel good. The word is complicated etymologically; it arises from the latin senex (old man) and the sen- also applies to senate. There is a bivalent meaning in our culture, the authoritative meaning and the side that is tied to senility and senescence where it is a term of diminishment and not praise. Our culture emphasizes the diminishing meaning when talking about older people denying them the more powerful arm of the meaning.
What would you add to the list and how have you seen it used in an agist way? Use the comments below to continue the conversation.