As we get older, what at first seems to be respectful and benign behavior begins to morph into microaggressions. “He is way too old to be trying that!” “Look what she is wearing — at her age!” “Production will slow down if we hire him.”
A microaggression is a comment or action that negatively targets a marginalized group of people, including seniors. Whether intentional or accidental, it’s a form of discrimination. People who use microaggressions may mean no harm to a person or group, but it can still hurt.
If we are honest, it is easy to pinpoint our own feelings about aging. Aging does frequently result in restrictions and it often does impact our abilities. But just as with other forms of discrimination, the differences we note shouldn’t be our primary impression.
Aging is natural. So, before you discover that old man or lady in the mirror looking back at you, learn how to relate to older individuals as individuals — not a silver tsunami, not a societal burden, not an obligation — as a person.
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