September 8, 2023

Arrow’s D&I Speaker Series: An Ageism Conversation with Iris Waichler

Category: D&I Series

Author: Charlie Johnson 

Iris Waichler, medical social worker and author of the award-winning book “Role Reversal,” sat for an interview with Elaine Letcher, Arrow Senior Living resident, to discuss ageism. Waichler has 40 years of experience as a social worker and has written and published many articles. 

According to Waichler, ageism isn’t exclusive to the United States, but rather it’s a problem around the world. Ageism is when people mistakenly stereotype others or make false assumptions about what they can or can’t do based on their age. It happens a lot.  

“When people see others that are much older or family members changing, having trouble with words, not able to drive, or needing help walking, they start thinking about their life and their own mortality,” Waichler continued. “I think it makes people anxious not knowing what is happening and that is scary for them. Sometimes ageism comes out of fear, uncertainty, and not knowing what is going on.” 

A role model, like a grandparent, can really change a person’s perception about aging. They become comfortable being around and interacting with an aging adult. Intergenerational contact results in respectful relationships and a greater understanding of who people are, regardless of age.  

Waichler says another place ageism happens frequently is in the workplace. Aging employees are promoted less. It is perceived if you are older, you can’t do the job as well. “In a workplace, if you create a space that treasures everybody there, regardless of their age, that can really promote an environment that is a wonderful place for everybody involved,” she added. 

Ageism is commonly associated with older adults; however, reverse ageism also comes into play. This happens when older folks make false assumptions about younger people, such as that younger individuals may be lazy or may not be enthusiastic about work.  

“We’re probably all guilty of that,” Elaine commented. “Why don’t young people dress a little more appropriately? Don’t they look in a mirror?” Other examples of reverse ageism include opinions of individuals with a lot of tattoos or who wear jeans with the knees cut out. 

It is important that people stand up to ageism when they see it happen.  

Older adults have so much world and life experience. Creating an opportunity to share those skills and talents is a beautiful thing. Enlighten people that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you still have a lot to contribute to the world. 

For the full conversation, follow the link: Arrow’s Diversity & Inclusion Series: “An Ageism Conversation with Iris Waichler”

Saint Charles, Missouri-based Arrow Senior Living manages a portfolio of communities that offer varying levels of care, including independent living, assisted living, and memory care. Each and every senior living community supports residents by focusing on dignity, respect, and quality of life. The programs and amenities offered are selected to provide only the highest standard of quality and comfort.

Find an Arrow community near you
Work at Arrow Senior Living

Follow Us

Copyright © 2024 Arrow Senior Living. All rights reserved.