Ageism is prevalent not just in Maine or the United States but globally as well. It intersects with other social identifiers such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity. Ageism affects the physical, emotional, mental and financial well-being of those who experience this phenomenon. It creates isolation, decreased quality of life and premature death. The World Health Organization has indicated that 6.3 million cases of depression are attributed to ageism. In the U.S. in 2020, ageism led to excess annual costs of $63 billion for the eight most expensive health conditions.

Ageism occurs on institutional (community, businesses, employers, health care, educational institutions), interpersonal (social interaction) and internal (ageist beliefs applied to life) levels. We see it in the media, movies, television, imagery and advertising. There are several ways to change the narrative on aging and ageism. We must recognize that creating change is a collective effort.

How do we change the narrative? By recognizing the diversity in aging; knowing the verbal and nonverbal cues; being willing to call ourselves into the necessary conversations about ageism; being ready to include others in the same meaningful conversation; speaking to policymakers and advocating for ways to end ageism, and participating in opportunities to both educate and learn.

To create an age-friendly and positive age-inclusive environment, we must change the narrative.

Patty Carriere

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