The Royal Commission into Quality and Safety in Aged Care has shone a spotlight on some appalling treatment of frail older people in our aged care system. But, as Ashton Applewhite makes clear, no amount of vigilance and regulation will achieve lasting change while we blindly continue to devalue older people and reject the extraordinary achievement of longer lives. And this is just the pointy, headline end of the problem.
US journalist, activist and author of ‘This Chair Rocks – A manifesto against ageism’, Ashton Applewhite, is calling time on ageism with its damaging myths and stereotypes that cripple the way our brains and bodies function and portray a diverse cohort of citizens (‘the elderly’) as burdens to society.
Ashton explains the roots of ageism—in history and in our own age denial—and how it divides and debases. She argues powerfully that this ‘last socially sanctioned prejudice’ its many forms – both internalised and in the culture at large— obscures all but the most negative messages about life after 65 (or 50, or even 40), with disastrous personal and political implications.
We need to rethink ageing. How do we unite the generations for good, embrace the many opportunities presented by our changing demographics, develop more positive and creative responses to getting older and set strong, new foundations for current and future generations of Australians to age well? Applewhite has plenty of ideas. But first, we need to talk about ageism.
Author, journalist and activist, Ashton Applewhite is an expert and leading international voice for a movement to mobilise against discrimination on the basis of age. She has spoken publicly at venues that have ranged from universities and community centres to the TED mainstage and the United Nations. Her 2017 TED Talk, ‘Let’s end ageism’ has been viewed more than 1.4m times. She has written for Harper’s, the Guardian, and the New York Times, and is the voice of Yo, Is This Ageist? She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Ashton Applewhite is visiting Australia as a guest of the EveryAGE Counts Campaign against ageism.