This Chair Rocks

People are happiest at the beginnings and the ends of their lives. The vast majority of Americans over 65 live independently. The older people get, the less afraid they are of dying. Aging is a natural, lifelong, powerful process. So how come so many of us unthinkingly assume that depression, diapers, and dementia lie ahead? That the 20th century’s astonishing leap in life expectancy is a disaster-in-the making? Underlying all the hand-wringing is ageism: discrimination that sidelines and silences older people. So I’ve written a book. I blog about it. I have a Q & A blog called Yo, Is This Ageist? (Go ahead, ask me.) I’ve written a consciousness-raising booklet. And I speak widely. All tools to help catalyze a movement to make discrimination on the basis of age as unacceptable as any other kind.

About the Book

Buy it here.

From childhood on, we’re barraged by messages that it’s sad to be old. That wrinkles are embarrassing, and old people useless. Author and activist Ashton Applewhite believed them too—until she realized where this prejudice comes from and the damage it does. Lively, funny, and deeply researched, This Chair Rocks traces Applewhite’s journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-aging radical, and in the process debunks myth after myth about late life. The book explains the roots of ageism—in history and in our own age denial—and how it divides and debases, examines how ageist myths and stereotypes cripple the way our brains and bodies function, looks at ageism in the workplace and the bedroom, exposes the cost of the all-American myth of independence, critiques the portrayal of olders as burdens to society, describes what an all-age-friendly world would look like, and concludes with a rousing call to action. Whether you’re older or hoping to get there, this book will shake you by the shoulders, cheer you up, make you mad, and change the way you see the rest of your life. Age pride!

Wow. This book totally rocks. It arrived on a day when I was in deep confusion and sadness about my age—62. Everything about it, from my invisibility to my neck. Within four or five wise, passionate pages, I had found insight, illumination and inspiration. I never use the word empower, but this book has empowered me.

ANNE LAMOTT, New York Times best-selling author

Along comes Ashton Applewhite with a book we have been waiting for. Anti-ageism now boasts a popular champion, activist, and epigrammatist in the lineage of Martial and Dorothy Parker. Until This Chair Rocks we haven’t had a single compact book that blows up myths seven to a page like fireworks.

LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS

Vibrant, energetic, fact-filled and funny, This Chair Rocks is a call to arms not just for older people but for our whole society.

KATHA POLLITT, poet, essayist, and Nation columnist

Sometimes a writer does us all a great favor and switches on a light. Snap! The darkness vanishes and, in its place we find an electric vision of new ways of living. I want to live in a world where ageism is just a memory, and This Chair Rocks illuminates the path.

DR. BILL THOMAS, founder of Changing Aging

This Chair Rocks is radical, exuberant, and full of all sorts of facts that erase many of the myths and beliefs about late life. As Applewhite defines and describes ageism, new ways of seeing and being in the world emerge, empowering everyone to see things as they really are.

LAURIE ANDERSON, artist

A knowledgeable, straight-talking, and witty book that briskly explains to anyone how-wrong-we-are-about-aging. There’s radical news here to enlighten the most “done” starlet, and
tart turns of phrase to captivate the most expert age critic: ‘All aging is “successful”—not just the sporty version—otherwise you’re dead.’ This pithy primer ought ideally to be given to every American adolescent—to inoculate them against the lies and stereotypes that can spoil the long life course they will all want.

Margaret Morganroth Gullette, author of Aged by Culture and the prize-winning Agewise and Declining to Decline

Ashton Applewhite is a visionary whose time has come, tackling one of the most persistent biases of our day with originality, verve, and humor. Her magic formula of naming and shaming may just shake all of us out of complacency and it into action. Whether you relate through being older now or recognize that aging is in your future, this is one of the most important books you’ll ever read.

Marc Freedman, CEO of Encore.org and author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Life Stage Before Midlife

A smart and stirring call to add ageism to the list of ‘isms’ that divide us, and to mobilize against it. Applewhite shows how ageism distorts our view of old age, and urges us to challenge age- based prejudices in ourselves and in society. An important wake-up call for any baby boomer who’s apprehensive about growing old.

Pepper Schwartz, Professor of Sociology, University of Washington and AARP’s Official Love & Relationship Ambassador

Smart, sassy and oh so wise.

AARP

Finally, a take-down of the last acceptable prejudice. Applewhite eloquently and expertly exposes the structural discrimination that makes growing older so much harder than it should be—not just for the white, affluent, healthy, and able-bodied, but for women, people of color, people with disabilities, and poor people. Full of treasures, This Chair Rocks should be required reading for everyone in aging services, to help us confront ageism in our personal and professional lives and join forces against it. As Applewhite writes, ‘It’s time for Age Pride.’ 

Donna Corrado, Commissioner, NYC Department for the Aging

An eloquent and well-researched exposé of the prejudice that feeds age bias, and a passionate argument to mobilize against it. This must-read book is also a fun-read for every age.

Stephanie Coontz, author, The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap

To live agefully – what a wonderful word! With warmth, wit and clarity, Ashton Applewhite explains what it means, while never falling into age-denial or age-shame. This is a book packed with provocative and liberating ideas, to make you leap into the air with pleasure – even if your knees, like mine, are a little dodgy.

Anne Karpf, author of How to Age


Blog

Why I do what I do

Since my piece about older workers appeared in the New York Times last weekend, I’ve been deluged with emails. None touched me more than this one from a man named Tony, who lives on Long Island:

Thank you so much for your eye-opening Op Ed in the Sunday Times.  I turned 65 in June of this year and I’ve been having a difficult time of it. I’m depressed, back in therapy, and struggling at work wondering why I’ve applied for countless positions internally, and externally, all of which I’m more than qualified for. If interviewed at all, all I got was “ We’ll be in Touch.” Before reading your Op Ed yesterday, I’ve never heard or thought of ‘ageism.” I now know what’s been going on at my job.

I work in a major hospital in New York with 6 years tenure.  I’m a Senior Program Manger, in Quality Assurance.  Over the last two years, three of the most dedicated of my colleagues, who were over the age of 65, have been laid off.

I was the last man standing. I covered everyone’s assignments for 18 months. Over time, new younger staff have been hired and now I feel I’m being sidelined, marginalized and ignored. Before reading your OpEd and visiting your web site I thought it was me, that is was my problem and that maybe I’ve been unrealistic in my expectations of wanting a promotion because I’m too old now. I’m in distress because there is no way I can retire due to financial considerations at this time.

Your OpEd may have changed my life, it’s opened my eyes to the possibility that I’ve been validated in what I see happing at work and that my concerns just may be valid. I won’t be silent about ageism or age discrimination.

This is why I do the work I do. Ageism is still so pervasive and unchallenged that lots of people, like Tony, don’t even know it exists. They’re unlikely to realize that feelings of personal inadequacy, like the ones that have mired Tony in depression, are actually a result of being discriminated against.

This is why consciousness-raising (CR) is so important.Think of it as a mindset alteration. Consciousness-raising is the tool that catalyzed the women’s movement. It uses the power of personal experiences to unpack unconscious prejudices and to call for social change. Participants meet in groups that use personal testimonies—combined experiences—to understand concretely how they are oppressed and who’s doing the oppressing. CR groups allow participants to express feelings they may have dismissed as unimportant, or unique to them. By sharing their truths, vulnerabilities, and experiences, participants become more aware of how they feel and what forces shape those feelings. This shows us how “personal problems”—not being able to land an interview, being ignored or passed over, feeling marginalized—are actually widely shared political problems that require collective action.

Download Who Me, Ageist?, my guide to starting a CR group around age bias. If groups aren’t your thing, read my book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. Read the reviews if you need convincing that it’ll change the way you feel about the rest of your life. All change starts with awareness. Once we start to see how ageism making growing older in America so much harder than it has to be, we see it everywhere. And there’s no getting that genie back in the bottle.

 

Ageism makes it into the Sunday New York Times

A few weeks ago Rachel Dry, an editor with the New York Times Opinion, section asked if I'd write a piece on older workers for their Labor Day edition. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity.  Rachel supplied the lede (the opener, in journalist-speak) and expert editing, and the Times came through with fantastic placement in both the print and online editions.  Big break for the issue I care so much about, and for me.  Here it is:

You're How Old? We'll Be in Touch

It might not seem that Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump have much in common. But they share something important with each other and with a whole lot of their fellow citizens. Both are job seekers. And at ages 68 and 70, respectively, they’re part of a large group of Americans who are radically upending the concept of retirement.

In 2016, almost 20 percent of Americans 65 and older are working. Some of them want to; many need to. The demise of traditional pensions means that many people have to keep earning in their 60s and 70s to maintain a decent standard of living.

These older people represent a vast well of productive and creative potential. Veteran workers can bring deep knowledge to the table, as well as well-honed interpersonal skills, better judgment than the less experienced and a more balanced perspective. They embody a natural resource that’s increasing: the social capital of millions of healthy, educated adults.

Why, then, are well over a million and a half Americans over 50, people with decades of life ahead of them, unable to find work? The underlying reason isn’t personal, it’s structural. It’s the result of a network of attitudes and institutional practices that we can no longer ignore.

The problem is ageism — discrimination on the basis of age. A dumb and destructive obsession with youth so extreme that experience has become a liability. In Silicon Valley, engineers are getting Botox and hair transplants before interviews — and these are skilled, educated, white guys in their 20s, so imagine the effect further down the food chain.

Age discrimination in employment is illegal, but two-thirds of older job seekers report encountering it. At 64, I’m fortunate not to have been one of them, as I work at the American Museum of Natural History, a truly all-age-friendly employer.

I write about ageism, though, so I hear stories all the time. The 51-year-old Uber driver taking me to Los Angeles International Airport at dawn a few weeks ago told me about a marketing position he thought he was eminently qualified for. He did his homework and nailed the interview. On his way out of the building he overheard, “Yeah, he’s perfect, but he’s too old.”

I’m lucky enough to get my tech support from JK Scheinberg, the engineer at Apple who led the effort that moved the Mac to Intel processors. A little restless after retiring in 2008, at 54, he figured he’d be a great fit for a position at an Apple store Genius Bar, despite being twice as old as anyone else at the group interview. “On the way out, all three of the interviewers singled me out and said, ‘We’ll be in touch,’ ” he said. “I never heard back.”

Recruiters say people with more than three years of work experience need not apply. Ads call for “digital natives,” as if playing video games as a kid is proof of competence. Résumés go unread, as Christina Economos, a science educator with more than 40 years of experience developing curriculum, has learned. “I don’t even get a reply — or they just say, ‘We’ve found someone more suited,’ ” she said. “I feel that my experience, skill set, work ethic, are being dismissed just because of my age. It’s really a blow, since I still feel like a vital human being.”

A 2016 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found “robust” evidence that age discrimination in the workplace starts earlier for women and never relents. The pay gap kicks in early, at age 32, when women start getting passed over for promotion.

Discouraged and diminished, many older Americans stop looking for work entirely. They become economically dependent, contributing to the misperception that older people are a burden to society, but it’s not by choice. How are older people supposed to remain self-sufficient if they’re forced out of the job market?

Not one negative stereotype about older workers holds up underscrutiny. Abundant data show that they’re reliable, handle stress well, master new skills and are the most engaged of all workers when offered the chance to grow and advance on the job. Older people might take longer to accomplish a given task, but they make fewer mistakes. They take longer to recover from injury but hurt themselves less often. It’s a wash. Motivation and effort affect output far more than age does.

Age prejudice — assuming that someone is too old or too young to handle a task or take on a responsibility — cramps prospects for everyone, old or young. Millennials, who are criticized for having “no work ethic” and “needing to have their hands held,” have trouble getting a foothold in the job market. Unless we tackle age bias, they too are likely to become less employable through no fault of their own, and sooner than they might think. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act kicks in at 40.

The myth that older workers crowd out younger ones is called the “lump of labor” fallacy, and economists have debunked it countless times. When jobs are scarce, this is true in the narrowest sense, but that’s a labor market problem, not a too-many-old-people problem.

A 2012 Pew Charitable Trusts study of employment rates over the last 40 years found rates for younger and older workers to be positively correlated. In other words, as more older workers stayed on the job, the employment rate and number of hours worked also improved for younger people.

Progressive companies know the benefits of workplace diversity. A friend in work force policy calls this the “shoe test”: look under the table, and if everyone’s wearing the same kind of shoes, whether wingtips or flip-flops, you’ve got a problem. It’s blindingly obvious that age belongs alongside race, gender, ability and sexual orientation as a criterion for diversity — not only because it’s the ethical path but also because age discrimination hurts productivity and profits.

Being part of a mixed-age team can be challenging. Betsy Martens was 55 when she landed a job as an information architect at a start-up during the heady days of the tech boom. Decades older than most of the staff, she found it invigorating. “When it came time to talk about the music we loved, the books we’d read, the movies we saw and the life experiences we’d had, we were on different planets, but we were all open-minded enough to find these differences intriguing,” she told me. Things shifted during an argument with her boss, “when he said exasperatedly, ‘You sound just like my mother.’ That was the moment the pin pricked the balloon.”

“Culture fit” gets bandied about in this context — the idea that people in an organization should share attitudes, backgrounds and working styles. That can mean rejecting people who “aren’t like us.” Age, however, is a far less reliable indicator of shared values or interests than class, gender, race or income level. Discomfort at reaching across an age gap is one of the sorry consequences of living in a profoundly age-segregated society. The Cornell gerontologist Karl Pillemer says that Americans are more likely to have a friend of a different race than one who is 10 years older or younger than they are.

Age segregation impoverishes us, because it cuts us off from most of humanity and because the exchange of skills and stories across generations is the natural order of things. In the United States, ageism has subverted it.

What is achieving age diversity going to take? Nothing less than a mass movement like the women’s movement, which made people aware that “personal problems” — like being perceived as incompetent, or being paid less, or getting passed over for promotion — were actually widely shared political problems that required collective action.

The critical starting point is to acknowledge our own prejudice: internalized bias like “I’m too old for that job,” and that directed at others, like “It’s going to take me forever to bring that old guy up to speed.” Confronting ageism means making friends of all ages. It means pointing out bias when you encounter it (when everyone at a meeting is the same age, for example).

Confronting ageism means joining forces. It means seeing older people not as alien and “other,” but as us — future us, that is.

Guest post: How does ageism affect the rights of all animals? An intersectional critique of the animal rights movement

This post is by Lili Trenkova, who was born and raised in Bulgaria during the final years of communism and has worked as an architectural and environmental designer, scenic artist and fabricator, and an activist for various causes. She lives in Brooklyn with her human partner Raffaella, with whom she founded Collectively Free, a pro-intersectional animal rights community in 2014.

The term "intersectionality" was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw and developed by her and other black feminists in the 1970s. They noticed that the Civil Rights movement wasn't addressing gender/women's issues, and the feminist movement wasn't addressing racial issues. Their work offers a lens through which we can view how different forms of oppression intersect and layer over one another to have a compound effect on the people that experience them. At Collectively Free, we explore how oppression of humans also closely relates to that of nonhumans. Given that ageism isn't something often talked about in social movements, we wanted to bring attention to it because it certainly affects many people in our community.

Ageism + Speciesism
Farmed animals such as dairy cows, egg-laying hens and all others raised for their flesh are valued based on how much and how quickly they can “produce”. For example, the younger an animal is when slaughtered, the higher the appeal of their flesh is (“tender”, “juicy”, “delicate”). Alternatively, the consumption of an “old” animal’s flesh invokes disgust (“tough”, “dry”, “chewy”).

This same framework applies to how our current society attributes “usefulness” to us humans based on our age. The younger and more “productive” (or “consumable”) we are, the more valued we are. Once we no longer fit society’s standard, we lose our youth privilege. We are no longer seen as attractive or as proficient at our work.

Ageism + Animal Rights
When we open a vegan brochure, we are most likely met with images of stereotypical able-bodied, youthful, “happy” people (who are also usually white and heteronormative). Veganism is then portrayed as a life-prolonging cure-all, in the same way as “anti-aging” beauty brands market their products, reinforcing the idea that more age equals less beauty, less health, less ability.

When did this narrative take hold in our movement? When mainstream organizations, led primarily by younger white men, claimed the spotlight and turned veganism into a marketing banner. In one of her essays, pro-intersectional animal-rights pioneer Carol J. Adams brings attention to Cleveland Amory, who in 1990 (later proudly quoted by Wayne Pacelle in 2008) labeled the “new” animal rights movement as no longer comprised of “little old ladies in tennis shoes”.

How exactly does ageism manifest in animal rights activism? How often have we marched in a group only to end up separating from folks who may walk slower? How often have we dismissed someone's opinion because they were too “old school” or “too young” and “inexperienced”? And how deeply do we consider our actions’ physical, visual, or auditory accessibility?

 Going Deeper
The addition of sexism only amplifies the effects of ageism. In mainstream “Western” society, older men are often viewed and portrayed (in films, media, etc.) as “wise” and “experienced”. Older women on the other hand are viewed and portrayed as “inadequate” and “burdensome”, even when they have been and continue to be caregivers (to grandchildren, to partners and friends, or to nonhuman animals). This is precisely the reason why Peter Singer is deemed the “father” of the contemporary animal rights movement for his 1975 book, “Animal Liberation”, even though he himself admits that he drew tremendous influence from the 1964 book by Ruth Harrison, “Animal Machines” (the first full exposé on intensive animal farming). Brigid Brophy was another activist and writer whose 1965 Sunday Times essay, “The Rights of Animals” effectively inspired the animal rights movement in the UK. There’s also Rachel Carson and her 1962 book, “Silent Spring”. Not to invalidate Singer, but while he gets credit, women like Harrison, Brophy and Carson have become lumped together as just obscure “little old ladies in tennis shoes”.

As with all oppression, ageism doesn't come down to just how we “feel” about older or younger people. We've built a system that continuously marginalizes and disenfranchises based on age. In gentrifying neighborhoods, older people who live alone are vulnerable to evictions and displacement - especially if they are people of color (+ racism layer). In countries with high poverty rates, it is the younger and able-bodied who flee. Older immigrants have higher risks of being denied refugee or asylum status (+ xenophobia layer). At the other end of the spectrum, children too are routinely denied the status of “human”, including the right to legal representation, forcing them to literally “represent” themselves in immigration court, some as young as three years of age.

Even our beloved companion animals are not immune to ageism. Older dogs and cats - as well as those with disabilities - have significantly lower chances of being adopted from a shelter, and more often than not end up “euthanized.”

Bottom Line
Ageism is rarely discussed, even within activist circles that focus on other forms of oppression. Yet as we’ve seen, ageism too connects closely to other -isms, so we shouldn’t let it slide off our intersectional radars!

Bio

 

I didn’t set out to become a writer. I went into publishing because I loved to read and didn’t have any better ideas. I had a weakness for the kind of jokes that make you cringe and guffaw at the same time, my boss kept telling me to write them down, and the collection turned into the best-selling paperback of 1982. I was a clue on “Jeopardy” (“Who is the author of Truly Tasteless Jokes?” Answer: “Blanche Knott.”), and as Blanche made publishing history by occupying four of the fifteen spots on the New York Times bestseller list.

My first serious book, Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well, was published by HarperCollins in 1997. Ms. magazine called it “rocket fuel for launching new lives,” and it landed me on Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum enemies list. It also got me invited to join the board of the nascent Council on Contemporary Families, a group of distinguished family scholars. I belonged to the Artist’s Network of Refuse & Resist group that originated the anti-Iraq-invasion slogan and performance pieces titled “Our Grief is Not a Cry for War.” As a contributing editor of IEEE Spectrum magazine, I went to Laos to cover a village getting internet access via a bicycle-powered computer. Since 2000 I’ve been on staff at the American Museum of Natural History, where I write about everything under the Sun.

The catalyst for Cutting Loose was puzzlement: why was our notion of women’s lives after divorce (visualize depressed dame on barstool) so different from the happy and energized reality? A similar question gave rise to This Chair Rocks: why is our view of late life so unrelievedly grim when the lived reality is so different? I began blogging about aging and ageism in 2007 and started speaking on the subject in July, 2012, which is also when I started the Yo, Is This Ageist? blog. During that time I’ve become a Knight Fellow, a New York Times Fellow, and a fellow at Yale Law School; I’ve written for Harper’s, Playboy, and many other publications; and I’ve been recognized by the New York Times, National Public Radio, and the American Society on Aging as an expert on ageism. In 2015 I was included in a list of 100 inspiring women—along with Arundhati Roy, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Germaine Greer, Naomi Klein, Pussy Riot, and other remarkable activists—who are committed to social change. My book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, was published in March, 2016. 

Yo, Is This Ageist?

(Go ahead, ask me.)

There’s more.

Appearances

Part monologue and part consciousness-raiser, This Chair Rocks: How Ageism Warps Our View of Long Life is a 40-minute talk that uses stories and statistics to dispel myth after myth about late life. It’s fierce and funny, and it changes the way people envision their futures. (Clip here.) Let’s Rock This Chair: Say No to Ageism is a shorter and more activism-oriented talk that shows how ageism makes aging in America so much harder than it has to be. I also speak about the medicalization of old age, ageism and elder abuse, and the effects of ageism on women’s lives.

What People Are Saying:

I was encouraged by the statistics you quoted, forced to acknowledge my own ageist thoughts, and ultimately fired up to fight them in myself and others. You are on to something big!

Sarah Meredith, painter

Why can’t we stop ageism? Good question. For some answers, start looking in the mirror and look around you. For a good dialogue on the subject, visit Ashton Applewhite’s website, This Chair Rocks.

Harry R. Moody, Director of Academic Affairs, AARP

Consciousness-raising at its sharpest and most useful.

David Watts Barton, journalist and playwright

This Chair Rocks confirms our knowledge that emotional well being is abundant in later life, challenges us to face our own internalized ageism, and inspires us to envision a future in which our society is released from age-related prejudice and discrimination. And it’s fun, too!

Geriatric Mental Health Alliance of New York

Holistic, deep, urgent, and also fun.

Lenelle Moise, playwright and performer

All practitioners working with older adults need to be informed about the pernicious influences of ageism. Nobody does this better than Ashton Applewhite. Her thinking is deep, her passion infectious, and her cogent message is spot on: we urgently need to have a national conversation about ageism to raise awareness about it and to stop it.

Risa Breckman, LCSW, Executive Director, NYC Elder Abuse Center

You have found a fantastic mission: raising consciousness that older is far better than the stereotype that enslaves us all.

Jennifer Siebens, producer, CBS News

Ashton Applewhite’s plenary address at the 2013 New York State Adult Abuse Training Institute was compelling and original, and really resonated with our 400 participants. She is an articulate and committed voice for an important cause: challenging the demoralizing shadow that ageism casts across society.

Jean Callahan, Director, Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging

Octogenarians are the fastest-growing segment of our population, yet most Americans are scared stiff at the prospect of growing old. [Applewhite’s work] is a welcome and important tonic.

Dr. Robert Butler, founding director of the National Institute on Aging, coiner of the term “ageism”

We need an anti-ageist movement, for sure. Ashton is already in it.

Margaret Morganroth Gullette, author of Agewise and Aged by Culture

A beautifully delivered, provocative description of how ageism clouds our vision of what life holds in store.

Sabrina Hamilton, director, Ko Festival for the Arts

Ashton Applewhite is on a crusade. A journalist and author, her mission is to raise awareness of ageism in America and get people young and old to join her in speaking out against it.

Senior Planet

Thank you again for your terrific keynote yesterday. I heard from so many attendees that it affected them deeply. You are wise, funny, and provocative – a great combination!

Teresa Bonner, Program Director, Aroha Philanthropies

Upcoming Appearances

keynote for the 26th International Day of Older Persons at the UN

Where: New York

When: October 6, 2016 10:00 am

More info: The theme this year is "Take A Stand Against Ageism." Open to the public; no charge. To register, go to the website of the NGO Committee on Ageing/New York: www.ngocoa-ny.org.

presentation, 2016 Grantmakers in the Arts Conference

Where: St. Paul, MN

When: October 17, 2016 03:30 pm

More info: In partnership with Aroha Philanthropies.

plenary at Village to Village Network Annual Conference

Where: Columbus, Ohio

When: October 18, 2016 11:00 am

More info:

panel discussion, "An Entrepreneur for All Seasons"

Where: Marble Collegiate Church, 1 West 29 th St, NYC

When: October 20, 2016 06:00 pm

More info:

keynote, Aging Well: Building a Community for All Ages

Where: Concordia University, Portland, OR

When: October 29, 2016 10:00 am

More info: Free and open to the public; link here.

"Old Myths" - panel discussion at the Brooklyn Historical Society

Where: 128 Pierrepont St., Brooklyn, NY

When: November 29, 2016 06:30 pm

More info: with Dr. Mark Lachs, Ellen Cole & John Leland

keynote, Retirement Reimagined conference

Where: Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, New Jersey

When: December 9, 2016 11:00 am

More info: Open to the public; link here.

keynote, Nat'l Assoc of Senior Move Managers annual conference

Where: Indianapolis, IN

When: March 10, 2017 09:00 am

More info:


Media

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 11.58.00 AM

“Interview on Boomers Rock radio show”

August 15, 2016

Listen to it here.

57adf7641700001400d1e6a4

“Three Must-Read Books on Getting Old”

Huffington Post

August 11, 2016

Read it here.

unnamed

Must-Read Books for the Dog Days of Summer

NextAvenue

August 11, 2016

Read it here.

unnamed

Review in AgeWise (King County, WA)

August 1, 2016

Read it here.

maggie kuhn and i

Maggie Kuhn & I . . . and Ashton Applewhite

two-part feature on The Best Is Yet to Be blog

July 9, 2016

Read Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 9.07.24 AM

Interview on ElderCulture radio

June 9, 2016

Episode 49, listen here.

montclair

Interview on NorthJersey.com

May 23, 2016

Read here.

society pages

Interview with The Council on Contemporary Families

May 10, 2016

Read here.

henwood

Left Media News from Doug Henwood

April 28, 2016

Listen here — my bit starts at 28:36.

Cardinshow

Interview on the Joy Cardin Show, Wisconsin Public Radio
How Ageism is a Form of Oppression

April 8, 2016

Listen here.

unnamed

Interview on the Senior Rehab Podcast

April 4, 2016

Listen here.

Washington Post 29 March 2016

Profile in the Washington Post

March 29, 2016

Link here.

San Diego

Movement seeks to redefine what it means to age in America

March 28, 2016

Interview in San Diego Union. Link here.

cache_12170685

An interview with EngAge’s Tim Carpenter on his Experience Talks radio show.

March 20, 2016

Link here.

midcentury modern

Why I’m Not Ray, or How I came to Write a Manifesto Against Ageism

March 16, 2016

Excerpt published in MidCentury Modern on Medium. Link here.

Next Avenue

How to Swap Ageism for Age Pride

March 11, 2016

Interview with Marci Alboher on Next Avenue. Link here.

3 Ways to Combat Ageism

January 14, 2016

Interview on Real Women on Health radio show. Listen here.

Awakin Call with Anti-Ageism Crusader Ashton Applewhite

December 19, 2015

A weekly hour-long call where “inspiring change makers” talk candidly about their journeys. Listen here.

Revealed: The World’s 100 Most Inspiring Women

November 16, 2015

Article in Salt Magazine. My entry here.

Ageism: A Call to Awareness*

October 30, 2015

Article in the Huffington Post. Read it here.

Aging Well: Is It Mind Over Matter?

October 27, 2015

Interview on Minnesota Public Radio News with Kerri Miller. Listen here.

How I Became an Old Person in Training

October 22, 2015

Article in Generations, the journal of the American Society on Aging. Read it here.

To Age Well, Change How You Feel About Aging

October 19, 2015

Feature quoting me in the Wall Street Journal. Read it here.

Some Car Ads Taking Shots at Older Drivers

October 10, 2015

NPR’s Weekend Edition. Listen here.

“Is Ageism the Last Bias?”

September 1, 2015

Essay in Playboy magazine. Read it here.

“the Imperator Furiosa of anti-ageism”

July 3, 2015

Interview on Changing Aging blog. Read it here.

“An Age-Old Dilemma for Women” – New York Times

June 27, 2015

Read it here.

article in S Moda magazine (Condé Nast+El Pais, Spain)

March 22, 2015

Read it here.

interview in Fifty Plus Advocate

February 25, 2015

Read it here.

the Grand Valley Lanthorn covers the 10th Annual Art & Science of Aging Conferece

February 15, 2015

Read the article here.

interview on HuffPost50

January 6, 2015

Read it here.

“Much Abides”—interview on Virtual Memories podcast

October 20, 2014

Listen here.

interview on Wiser With Age

June 25, 2014

Read it here.

on NPR’s Morning Edition, about “silver tsunami”

May 19, 2014

Listen here.

interview on Ramsey Bahrawy television show

January 22, 2014

Watch here.

interview for David Norris newsletter

October 15, 2013

Link here.

interview on Pia Louise’s Living Portraits radio show

October 28, 2013

Listen here.

Profile on NextAvenue.com

October 24, 2013

Link here.

interview on Maria Sanchez radio show

September 16, 2013

Listen here.

interview on Anything Goes radio show

July 18, 2013

Listen here (19:40 to 30:00)

NYC Elder Abuse Center podcast

June 4, 2013

Listen here

interview on C-realm podcast

May 8, 2013

Episode 361 – This Chair Rocks

interview in California Health Report

March 17, 2013

Link here.

“Writer-Activist Ashton Applewhite” – interview with Senior Planet

October 2, 2013

Link here.

Girl With Pen

June 30, 2012

Link here.

Resources

A Tool

Who me, ageist? How to start a consciousness-raising group

download PDF here

Books

  • Ageism: Stereotyping and Prejudice against Older Persons by Todd D. Nelson (Boston: MIT Press, 2002)
  • Agewise: Fighting the New Ageism in America by Margaret Morganroth Gullette. (University of Chicago Press, 2011)
  • Aging Our Way: Lessons for Living from 85 and Beyond by Meika Loe. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011)
  • The Denial of Aging: Perpetual Youth, Eternal Life, and Other Dangerous Fantasies by Muriel R. Gillick (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006)
  • The Fountain of Age by Betty Friedan. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993)
  • How We Age: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Growing Old by Marc E. Agronin (New York: Da Capo Press, 2011)
  • How to Age by Anne Karpf (Macmillan, 2014)
  • A Long Bright Future by Laura Carstensen (New York: Broadway Books, 2009)
  • Learning to Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging by Margaret Cruikshank (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009)
  • Look Me In the Eye: Old Women, Aging, and Ageism by Barbara Macdonald with Cynthia Rich (San Francisco: Spinsters Book Company, 1991)
  • Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older by Wendy Lustbader (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2011)
  • The Longevity Revolution by Robert N. Butler (New York: PublicAffairs, 2008)
  • Naked At Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex by Joan Price (Berkeley: Seal Press, 2011)
  • Overcoming Age Discrimination in Employment by Patricia Barnes (2016)
  • Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life by Bill Thomas (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014)
  • Treat Me, Not My Age: A Doctor’s Guide to Getting the Best Care as You or a Loved One Gets Older by Mark Lachs (New York: Penguin Books, 2011)
  • Women in Late Life: Critical Perspectives on Gender and Age by Martha Holstein (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015)

These books helped me understand ageism. You can find a list of the best books on aging compiled by Changing Aging here and another good list compiled by Ronnie Bennett here.

Reports

Links

What Is Ageism?

Ageism is stereotyping and discrimination on the basis of a person’s age. We experience it any time someone assumes that we’re “too old” for something—a task, a haircut, a relationship—instead of finding out who we are and what we’re capable of. Or “too young;” ageism cuts both ways, although in a youth-obsessed society olders bear the brunt of it.

Like racism and sexism, ageism serves a social and economic purpose: to legitimize and sustain inequalities between groups. It’s not about how we look. It’s about how people in power assign meaning to how we look.

Stereotyping—the assumption that all members of a group are the same—underlies ageism (as it does all “isms”). Stereotyping is always a mistake, but especially when it comes to age, because the older we get, the more different from one another we become.

Attitudes about age—as well as race and gender—start to form in early childhood. Over a lifetime they harden into a set of truths: “just the way it is.” Unless we challenge ageist stereotypes—Old people are incompetent. Wrinkles are ugly. It’s sad to be old—we feel shame and embarrassment instead of taking pride in the accomplishment of aging. That’s internalized ageism.

By blinding us to the benefits of aging and heightening our fears, ageism makes growing older far harder than it has to be. It damages our sense of self, segregates us, diminishes our prospects, and actually shortens lives.

What are the antidotes?

  •    Awareness: the critical starting point is to acknowledge our own prejudices about age and aging. (Download a copy of Who me, Ageist? How to Start a Consciousness Raising Group.) Then we can start to see that “personal problems”—such as not being able to get a job or being belittled or feeling patronized—are actually widely shared social problems that require collective action.
  •    Integration: connect with people of all ages. An equitable society for all ages requires intergenerational collaboration.
  •    Activism: watch for ageist behaviors and attitudes in and around us, challenge them, and create language and models that support every stage of life.

Contact

Contact information

Mailing list

Sign up to receive announcements for This Chair Rocks and information about my upcoming events.

Sign up for Newsletter
* = required field