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To understand
stereotypes, you must learn what they are and why they exist. According to Hillier
& Barrow’s text Aging, the individual and society, “stereotypes are
generalized beliefs or opinions based on individual experience, often produced
by irrational thinking.” Humans have always had the typical behavior of
assuming things and having quick assessments of situations based on any certain
beliefs. Humans form the basis of making judgements and shaping many of our
interactions in the larger society (Hillier & Barrow, 2015). One example of
a stereotype is assuming that blacks and/or Hispanics are constantly committing
crimes. In reality, every race and every gender are capable of committing all
types of crimes sometimes more than people of color. According to Skorinko
& Sinclair’s text Perspective taking can increase stereotyping: the role of
apparent stereotype confirmation, if a person feels as though their ego is
being threatened by a group of people who are not like them, they are more
likely to make a harsh stereotype. Ageism, like racism and sexism, occurs when
people make general and unfair statements about people of a certain age group. Examples
of negative aging stereotypes could be illness, uselessness, depression, mental
decline, ugliness and more (Palmore, 1990). I believe that many people see
growing old as such a negative thing because they can’t seem to cope with the
idea of your body deteriorating and/or death. I have always been scared of the
idea of death and growing older but as time goes on, I had to realize aging is
inevitable and there are many ways to age gracefully with a positive mindset.

            One way of reducing ageist views and
potential discriminatory behavior towards older individuals is to draw attention
to people who are still making amazing contributions during their old age. Jane
Goodall, for example, has had over 50 years of work with nature and the study
of social and family interactions on chimpanzees and even today, she travels
the world, speaking about the threats facing chimpanzees and environmental
crises, urging each of us to take action on behalf of all living things and
planet we share (The Jane Goodall Institue, 2018). Negative stereotypes can
also be dismantled by being counteracted with facts or accurate information.
For example, there is a belief that elders as a group almost always suffer from
mental impairment. However, “longitudinal studies of the same people over many
years have found little overall decline in intelligence scores” (Hillier &
Barrow, 2015). Older people are just as cable of learning as are younger
people, it just might take a little more time depending on the individual. More
and more older people are also participating in aerobics classes, jogging,
walking, golf and more.  In a personal
example, one of my friend’s dad is 74 years old. However, he is an active
pediatrician and is constantly taking bike rides and playing matches of tennis.
More and more people of “old age” are proving that age is just number so there
is simply no reason for the constant stereotyping of older people. 

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