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Two Coloradans Slam the “Acceptable Bigotry” of Ageism

Diane Carman, a Denver communications consultant, and Manfred Diehl, a distinguished professor of human development and family studies at Colorado State University, claimed in a Colorado Sun op-ed that they are fed up with what they call “the last acceptable form of bigotry in our society.” They are referring to the ready acceptance of ageist prejudices. They listed three key “misconceptions” as follows:

Everything goes downhill as you age. No, they say. Because “older people generally are more emotionally stable, more agreeable and for the most part more conscientious.” And they exhibit above average emotional maturity and adaptability.

Decrepitude is inevitable. Wrong again. Because while research indicates that 30-40% of age-related conditions are genetically “baked in,” this means 60-70% are largely under our control, allowing us through prudent lifestyle choices to stay vital and healthy into our later years.

Once age-related losses have happened, they are irreversible. Not always so. “Smokers who quit can improve their lung capacity; people with osteoporosis can reverse bone loss through medication and exercise; and cognitive performance can be revitalized and improved through training. We all have a lot of physiological plasticity.”

The two concluded by saying, “Too many older adults don’t understand this and, even worse, have internalized society’s rampant ageism. … Chronological age in itself does not predict a lot.”

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