Age Shaming

aging in place

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

~ Wayne Dyer

Aging in Place

Lately I’ve been thinking about a fixed mindset vs. a growth mindset in terms of how one views or talks about aging. A fixed mindset from the 20th century views aging in peak and decline terms, a remnant from the mid-19th century industrial era.

The cultural metaphor was body-as-machine, you have a few good years and then you were worn out going into a steep decline. The medical model was predominant in creating this cultural narrative—which origins, in part, go back to the ancient Greeks, by the way. Pathology was the focus, what goes wrong with aging, or senescence dominated the view of aging.

This decline emphasis left little room for human development or any upside to growing older. It’s a shame that today there are still those who seem to embrace gerontophobia (fear of aging). To be stuck in this mindset is counterproductive, ironically to their future selves as well. We are all aging; it is a natural process of change over time.

Your Thinking is Out Dated

To dislike the term “aging in place” seems to me to fall under the category of a fixed mindset. Aging is not a sin, and like many “isms” ageism is designed to “other” a group of individuals. This dated thinking doesn’t belong in the 21st century.

Gerontophobia of this kind denies human potential throughout the life course. If you are a “thought leader” and you dislike “aging in place” take a moment to examine why. What image does the term conjure up? Now ask yourself honestly why you created that image in your head?  Are you working off 20th century prejudice that you’ve been culturally taught? Could you have just as easily envisioned an alternative vision—a 21st century growth mind set image?

Why would “thriving” or “living” be preferable to “aging?” It is a choice, like many ideas we grew up with and didn’t question that are now being challenged, maybe it’s time you rethink aging in general, and aging in place specifically.

You CAN change your thinking–raise your consciousness to a level of a new cultural view of aging. My guess is you’ve done it with other “isms.” Hanging on to dated cultural ideas erodes your relevancy and your soul.


The act of treating someone as though they are not part of a group and are different in some way:
A large volume of literature has been written on stereotyping and othering.
So much of our criminal-justice policy is driven by othering — magnifying the differences between those people and us, their children and our children.
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