Ageism: A threat to "aging well" in the 21st century

  • Angus J
  • Reeve P
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Abstract

At the beginning of the 21st century, the new mantra—“successful” and “resourceful” aging—is used interchangeably and intoned often unreflectively by a society eager to find ways to reduce aged-related losses. Yet despite numerous empirical studies and public health promotion strategies directed at ways of aging well, negative images of aging have an enduring vitality. This article examinesageism inarange of political, social, and cultural manifestos that have a productive role in encoding tacit assumptions and stereotypes about older people’s lives. Particular attention is given to the pervasive use of the concept of “dependency,” a stereotypic and productive ageist mechanism that continues to infiltrate what are arguably more inclusive strategies directed toward a global model of aging well. The authors explore some potential strategies to combat stereotypes and warn that aging well initiatives based on individualism and “self-responsibility” risk reproducing existing power relations that continue to inform ageist stereotypes.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Ageism
  • Aging
  • Dependency
  • Stereotypes
  • Successful aging

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Authors

  • Jocelyn Angus

  • Patricia Reeve

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