Beware of self-inflicted ageism
(No. 50!) Hiking, loving and phoning, plus painting at 100, by Stephen P. Williams
In this issue:
Self-generated ageism and more
Interview with a typical 66-year-old startup guy
Hiking, loving and phoning
Luchita Hurtado: painting at 100
Are older people inferior?
No matter our age, we’ve all experienced ageism. This prejudice has a surprising way of deeming both the under 20 and over 60 crowds incapable of accomplishing much at all. For older people, one of the most pernicious forms this takes is internalized ageism. I often have to catch myself from telling myself stuff like:
“I’m too old to join a gym.”
“This bright yellow jacket is too young for me.”
“Only kids can start a new business.”
Bright yellow jacket aside, I often question where the line is between telling myself I’m too old to do something because I’ll look foolish -- taking surfing lessons in Costa Rica when I was 55, for instance -- and admitting that, actually, my age makes me physically and perhaps mentally not up to a task -- such as learning how to surf at age 55. That’s how old I was when I made the first of three trips to Costa Rica by myself to attempt to surf. F the haters. I was fine. I had a fantastic time, even though I knew after the first day that I was never going to be Laird Hamilton. He could out surf me if he were 90. And I envy his diet.
Laird Hamilton is a very fit 57 year old who starts his day with 50-60 grams of healthy fats. He also has dubious thoughts about Genghis Khan’s troops. But he’s a great surfer (short video below).
All my life, I have loved watching people surf. During my trips to Costa Rica, the self-lacerating ageism that might have prevented me from getting on a board gave way to simple acceptance that my body wasn’t ever going to take me into a deep curl. I was able to enjoy my hours in the surf after that, even though I rarely caught a wave.
We can always do something about our own self-inflicted ageism. But external ageism -- from institutions, family, co-workers and strangers -- might be harder to counteract. The World Health Organization recently released its first ever Global Report on Ageism, which makes the case for ageism’s serious consequences around the world. The report finds that ageism:
Has far reaching effects on people’s health, well being and human rights.
Shortens lifespans, increases mental health issues, enhances cognitive decline.
Inhibits sexuality and increases loneliness.
Increases physical and mental abuse.
Makes young people less committed to their work.
Costs global society billions of dollars a year.
The report suggests a three-pronged strategy for reversing age-discrimination.
“Invest in evidence-based strategies to prevent and tackle ageism.” This pretty much calls for overhauling whole societies. I don’t have a lot of faith in the practicality of that.
“Improve data and research to gain a better understanding of ageism and how to reduce it.” This could help a lot, but isn’t something the average citizen can work on.
“Build a movement to change the narrative around age and aging. We all have a role to play in challenging and eliminating ageism.” I’m behind this idea 100%. We can all speak up against ageism when we see it. We can refuse to engage in it ourselves. And we can lobby our friends and family, and join organizations that respect the rights of people as they age.
I’m curious about your own experiences with ageism, and what have you done to prevent it. Let me know (anonymously, unless you tell me otherwise).
Interview with a 66-year-old smiling guy
Robert Gehorsam is a co-founder of a new health-tech startup.
Stuff worth knowing
Hiking turned her life around
She learned that she always has 25 percent more left in her tank.
Supposedly, a committed, long-term romantic relationship is linked to better health and a longer life.
An exhaustive, persuasive list of ways to make your iPhone work better for you, with fewer distractions. This info has already helped me disengage from my screen a bit.
Luchita Hurtado had her first painting exhibit at age 98
Born in Venezuela in 1920, Hurtado died in August, 2020, in Santa Monica, California.
Until next time. I appreciate that you’ve read this to the end -- Stephen