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Aging Stereotypes and Cultural Perspective

The natural process of growing older may be viewed differently. Judging by the images of the contemporary American culture, one sees youth as an indispensable part of wellbeing and regards aging as an unwanted consequence of living. An elderly person is pictured as a decrepit, ill creature and frequently becomes a laughing stock: for example, top Google search results contain articles on geriatrics, posts about elderly people wearing inappropriate clothes, and mischievous memes. This paper draws attention to the value of staying young as long as possible, stereotypes and stigmas associated with aging, and alternative views on elderly people.

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First and foremost, youth has become a must. Movies, TV shows, magazines, games predominantly depict sexy, attractive young characters. The underlying reason is the rapid development of technologies. Nowadays, the wisdom of ages can easily be googled: to become an expert, one can watch a short video instead of talking to an old person and consider it equivalent to years of experience (Archer, 2013). In this context, smartphones and other gadgets are vital instruments used mainly by young people. Such individuals are ideal consumers: they absorb information and perform several tasks simultaneously. Consumerism encourages this model of behavior because people tend to spend astronomical sums of money on products that help them look younger and keep with the times.

Elderly people do not, by and large, follow this pattern of behavior. As a result, they become personae non gratae for advertizers and media in general who help expand stereotypes about them. For example, the advertisement of the Chevrolet Cruze pictured an elderly man in a nursing home who was hard of hearing. Another example is the stereotype in Shreddies commercial that all elderly ladies knit. TV shows also present stereotypes concerning senior adults, for instance, Professor Farnsworth in Futurama frequently falls asleep, and Grampa Simpson is cantankerous, boring, and expresses negative views on the younger generation. However, elderly people may be active and have different hobbies; moreover, the symptoms that are usually associated with advanced age might also occur in younger patients. Thus, these stereotypes are not true.

Age is often stigmatized. In terms of work, employers reluctantly deal with elderly workers: the latter may lose their job because of their age. Elderly people may face lower-quality services in different spheres from restaurants to hospitals. Health care workers sometimes refuse referrals to consultants because patients are at the advanced age. On the ground of age, a person might fail to receive interest-free credits, credit cards, or motor insurance. In other words, elderly people encounter many problems in everyday life and exercising their rights.

The attitude towards elderly people directly depends on the type of the cultural landscape. In America, aging is ambiguous. It may bring positive changes, such as more time with a family, more traveling, volunteer work, and so on. At the same time, elderly persons will possibly face stereotypes and discrimination. However, there are other cultures that treat aging differently. Chinese people hold elderly persons, especially parents, in considerable respect. The concept of filial piety, the virtue of devotion to one’s parents, is a core value of Confucianism (Allen, 2016). Just as many centuries ago, everyone is expected to have respect for elderly people.

To conclude, growing older is a phenomenon that may be viewed through the natural and cultural perspective. In the United States, ageism has become widespread: there are numerous stereotypes that stultify elderly people. While some cultures respect the elderly, the Americans tend to stigmatize age and value youth.


Allen, K. (2016). The kowtow of a Chinese son and the debate about respect. BBC. Web.

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Archer, D. M. D. (2013). Forever young: America’s obsession with never growing old. Psychology Today. Web.

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