Ageism and the Oscars: Transforming our perceptions

We see Ageism in advertising, media, employment, policy, communication, and in many other areas of our lives. Photo: Photo: Gregorio Borgia / AP

SAN DIEGO, CA, February 26, 2013 - As art continues imitating life, the 2013 Oscar Awards ceremony may be a signal that our views about Ageism are changing for the better. 

With award nominations for actors, directors, and artists such as Sally Field, Daniel Day-Lewis, Steven Spielberg, Alan Arkin, Robert DeNiro, and Emmanuelle Riva (age 86) among others, respect and admiration is rightfully being extended to those with decades of contributions and dedication to their craft.  Can you imagine an Oscar nomination or award announcement being prefaced by an adjective such as hag, fossil, codger, old lady, old goat, or sweet old lady to describe each nominee over a certain age? Why, then, would we be so willing to think in this manner and treat ourselves or possibly each other in a similar fashion?

Unfortunately, ageism is alive and well in the USA.  We see Ageism in advertising, media, employment, policy, communication, and in many other areas of our lives.

Ageism is so pervasive that Australia, Canada, Nigeria, France, Belgium, the United States, and the United Kingdom are among the many countries that have implemented laws and advocacy campaigns to address and prevent it.

What is Ageism? According to the NASH County Aging Department of North Carolina: “Ageism is a negative stereotype or myth about growing old expressed in our language and our behavior….an assumption that chronological age is the only thing that defines us.”

With the unprecedented advent of the Silver Tsunami, as 10,000 people turn 65 each day over the next 20 years, the Baby Boomers “…will probably be a transforming generation….with one out of five Americans projected to be over 65 in 2025,” according to Robert N. Butler, M.D., in his article “Combating Ageism:  A Matter of Human and Civil Rights.”

Rejecting Ageism is a key component of my Living Successfully Checklist, and Actress Emmanuelle Riva, who at age 86 portrayed a woman dealing with the poignant struggle of incapacitation and its effects on those she loved the most, is a true modern-day role model.  Riva debunks the stereotypes so common in Ageism, and her real life presence at the Oscar Awards was mesmerizing —her radiance and capability shone from the audience like a bright light.

Photo: Zacharie Scheurer / AP

In fact, she may have appeared brighter than many younger audience members!

With our current views of Ageism steeped in history and the early death of those around us, its very definition would seem archaic in today’s industrial society.

With ever-increasing life spans and advances in technology, medicine, overall health, and more, we now have options for contributing to the lives of those around us and ourselves in a myriad of ways for extended years.  We have the opportunity to redefine and reinvent ourselves as we progress over time.  It would seem, therefore, counterproductive and counterintuitive for any society to not reward and venerate its citizens for their productivity, longevity, and even just the basic ability to survive long-term. In the words of Plato:  “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

So, thanks to The Academy for being on the forefront of positive societal change, and for recognizing the genius, creativity, and contributions of many magnificent artists regardless of their age—inspiring each of us to move beyond any fear, myth or dislike for growing older.

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is President and CEO of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California. In addition to her positions as entrepreneur, health care executive, educator, media guest and contributor, Edwards-Tate is also a wife, daughter, and dog lover. Read more LifeCycles in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow At Your Home Familycare on Facebook and on Twitter @AYHFamilycare.

Copyright © 2013 by At Your Home Familycare

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Laurie Edwards-Tate

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today.

Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top  Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service.  Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home.

Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. 

 Follow Laurie and AYHF  at; on Facebook at, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare

Contact Laurie Edwards-Tate


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