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.


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.


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 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.


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


What a week—and what it says

Last week brought two very different gigs—one on the world stage and one in a Brooklyn community center.

The first was at the United Nations on October 6, to celebrate the 26th International Day of Older Persons. It was thrilling to be in one of the UN’s major meeting rooms, with simultaneous translations for people from all over the world, especially because of the theme—“Take A Stand Against Ageism.” The organizers invited me to give the keynote because they wanted a radical perspective, and I didn’t hold back. “Unless we confront ageism, older people will not have equal rights in any domain—whether retirement homes or refugee camps. Otherwise, the rest is noise.”

aa-in-front-of-un   ashton-at-the-un-2   aa-at-un-podium

People were really listening, to the Ambassador from Argentina (Argentina sponsored the event) and to my colleagues on the panel that followed: Burhan Gafoor, the Ambassador of Singapore; Alana Officer of the World Health Organization in Geneva; and Necodemus Chipfupa the South Africa Regional Director for HelpAge International—what fantastic company! Edith Lederer, Chief AP Correspondent for the UN, was kind enough to give me the last word, in response to a question about the relationship between ageism, sexism and racism. The women’s movement, I pointed out, largely left women of color behind, the civil rights movement did little to promote equal rights for women, and no one was considering people with disabilities. I closed with, “This time around we have the chance to build a movement that is truly inclusive. Everyone ages. Let’s do it right.” (Here's a link to the morning's proceedings; my contribution begins at 28:18.)

The second gig was in a linoleum-floored meeting room on Staff Development day at the Fort Greene Council. The audience consisted of 80 workers from the 13 senior centers they sponsor across Brooklyn, not just managers but food service, maintenance and transportation staff. I was one of three white people in the room. The invitation came from Executive Director Claudette Macey, who had attended the NYC Department for the Aging’s launch of its End Ageism Now! Initiative on September 21. That event kicked off with a conversation between Commissioner Donna Corrado and me, and the Commissioner gave out copies of my book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism to staff citywide.

room_ft-greene                  mwata-aa

Macey read it and decided to make history by being the first agency to implement a concerted effort to confront ageism in all their senior centers. She bought copies of the book for her entire staff, asked me to sign them and talk about its message, and is assigning a chapter for discussion at a staff meeting each month. They’ll be measuring outcomes, holding a “graduation”—I’m invited—and establishing a model that other organizations can follow. That’s thrilling.

What does the week tell us? That that a movement to end ageism is emerging, that it can be truly inclusive, and that it’s going to take all kinds of different forms. At the end of October, I’ll be meeting with people at Portland Community College to discuss their End Ageism Campaign, and we hope to come up with a model that other schools could implement. That’s thrilling. Speaking of schools, my GP came to a talk at Book Culture in New York and asked, “Why don’t we teach kids about ageism when we teach them about sexism and racism?” Well, why don’t we? I bet some of you can help make that happen in your communities. Movements need a million voices and faces.


Why the IMDb ruling is a setback for age equality

“This whole IMDB thing started at the ageism panel you did here in August!!!!!” That excited note landed in my in-box shortly before my keynote at Deal With It, a women’s conference sponsored by the Motion Picture and Television Fund on September 25th—in style at the Beverly Hills Montage Hotel, I might add. The note came from one of the organizers and referred to California law AB 1687, which had passed the day before. The legislation requires certain entertainment sites, like IMDb, to remove an actor’s age or birthday upon request, or not to post it in the first place. The law, said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris, “will help prevent age discrimination in film and television casting and hiring.”

No it won’t. As I responded to the organizer, “Unfortunately, it's the wrong fight because it's based on denial—it's an online version of attempting to conceal your age. And it distracts from the underlying issue: the devaluation of actors who are no longer young.”

I incorporated that point into my talk—SAG-AFTRA supplied the tote bags, after all—and got my first standing ovation. But some of the attendees who came up to the stage right afterwards were really angry about it. “We have no choice,” they said. “We have families to support.” I get that, I really do. As I also said in the talk, concealing our age, just like dyeing our hair to cover the gray or freezing our faces with Botox, is a really successful strategy for remaining visible in a culture that tells us incessantly that older = ugly. Hollywood is the epicenter of that culture, and every day these women, especially those in the entertainment industry, face a double whammy: vicious ageism compounded by rampant sexism.

But this behavior is like a gay person attempting to pass for straight, or a person of color for white. Age denial isn’t good for us, because it turns a natural attribute—something about ourselves that we cannot change—into something shameful. It reinforces the deeply ageist idea that our present-day selves are inferior to our younger selves. Even more significantly, it gives a pass to the underlying discrimination that makes these behaviors necessary. It’s easier to put a bandaid over an issue than to confront it, but it gives prejudice a pass. Aging remains a toxic topic in Hollywood, which is why the big-name celebrities who pushed for the legislation kept their names out of the story. They’re still afraid—understandably—of being tarnished by association.

It was gratifying when the organizer emailed back, “Oh right. Shit. You're right.” I don’t know how much headway I made with those women, but I was glad to hear this the next day from filmmaker Robyn Rosenfeld, who co-produced the August panel: “I spoke to a few of the objectors re your IMDb comments and I had the chance to voice why it’s so important to look at it as the wrong argument—that age discrimination is a much larger issue than hiding/denying ones age on the Internet. I think they got it. In fact they ended up giving me their cards and wanted to learn about future panels on ageism.” That’s real progress. So is the fact that almost every woman who came up to buy a book afterwards volunteered her age. (No prompting from me.) One of them told me it was the first time in decades that she’d said how old she was.

“How did it feel?” I asked.

“It felt strange,” she replied—with a smile.


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.




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.


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, National Inst. of Senior Centers national conference

Where: Oak Brook, Illinois

When: October 18, 2016 09:00 am

More info:

Book Reading and Discussion with Author Ashton Applewhite

Where: Hollywood Senior Center, Portland OR

When: October 26, 2016 03:17 pm

More info: Join us in partnership with Northeast Village PDX for this FREE event featuring live music, refreshments, and the opportunity to hear Ashton Applewhite read from and discuss her book, “This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto against Ageism.” Call  503-288-8303 to reserve your seat.

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.

YANA Health Forum: Ageism and Why It Matters

Where: Saint Peter's Church 619 Lexington Avenue, NYC

When: November 3, 2016 06:30 pm

More info: Yale's Becca Levy and I discuss the implications of being asked, “How old are you?” Levy's fascinating research plumbs the link between attitudes towards aging and how our minds and bodies function.  $10 registration fee, which goes to the nonprofit Gray Panthers NYC. Tickets here.

talk at Carteret Arts Forum

Where: Coral Bay Club, Atlantic Beach, NC

When: November 10, 2016 10:30 am

More info: $25, includes lunch, register here.  

keynote, Care Providers of Minnesota annual convention

Where: DoubleTree by Hilton, Bloomington, MN

When: November 15, 2016 02:30 pm

More info:

closing plenary, Green House Project annual meeting

Where: Iselin, NJ

When: November 16, 2016 02:00 pm

More info:

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

Where: 128 Pierrepont St., Brooklyn, NY

When: November 29, 2016 06:30 pm

More info: Join Ashton Applewhite of This Chair Rocks, Ellen Cole, co-creator of 70 Candles, John Leland of The New York Times, and Dr. Veronica LoFaso, Director of Geriatric Medical Education at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, for a discussion about positive aging. Paula Span, “New Old Age” columnist for The New York Times, moderates. Doors open at 6. $10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members. Link here.  

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:

Past Appearances



Interview on United Nations Radio

October 12, 2016

Listen here.


Interview on Gracefully Radio

October 7, 2016

Listen here.


Spirit of Success for Business — Applewhite Explains the Dangers of Age Bias

October 4, 2016

Listen here.


Interview on Retiree Rebels: Ditch the Rocking Chair podcast

October 2, 2016

Listen here.

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Interview on City Channel Four, Iowa City, Iowa

September 30, 2016

Watch here.

living juicy

Interview on Living Juicy, radio show from Santa Fe on KSFR

September 29, 2016

Listen to it here.


Interview on KERA, the NPR station for Dallas-Fort Worth

September 26, 2016

Listen here.

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Interview on Boomers Rock radio show

August 15, 2016

Listen to it here.


“Three Must-Read Books on Getting Old”

Huffington Post

August 11, 2016

Read it here.


Must-Read Books for the Dog Days of Summer


August 11, 2016

Read it here.


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

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Interview on ElderCulture radio

June 9, 2016

Episode 49, listen here.


Interview on

May 23, 2016

Read here.

society pages

Interview with The Council on Contemporary Families

May 10, 2016

Read here.


Left Media News from Doug Henwood

April 28, 2016

Listen here — my bit starts at 28:36.


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

April 8, 2016

Listen here.


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.


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

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.


A Tool

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

download PDF here


  • 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.



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.


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