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Thoughts on Ageism

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Ageism is the stereotypic discriminatory attitude toward people of a particular age especially the old aged people. Although ageing is a natural process and the reality being that humans are mortal the society has really stigmatized the old by their varied point of views about the old aged. Some argue that the old aged are burden to the society as well as to the economy. To some extent, this might be true because ageing reduces of the workforce. With ageing also come various age-related diseases that can diminish, if not destroy, quality of life for some older individuals. This leads to an increased health and social care cost. This has created fear of ageing among people and an increased obsession in the affluent societies to remain youthful and rigorous. This is because they are afraid of the ravages of time and are wary of growing old in a society highly esteems youthfulness and perfect bodies (McConnel &Turner, 2005)

 It is for this reason that there is a concerted effort to come up with anti ageing intervention technologies raging from biomedicine, tissue engineering, and stem cell research with the aim of slowing ageing, halting it or even reversing it. The fear of old age has created a multibillion-dollar market for drugs and cosmetic products designed to alleviated or lessen some of the body regressions that are associated with older ages. These include products such as anti-wrinkles creams and soaps, hair dye, libido boosters among others. This seems to supports the suggestion that although ageing is not good for the health of the individuals as well as the economy, it is good for business. These products are not cheap and therefore only the rich and affluent in the society can afford. This means that even if there is a breakthrough in the ant ageing interventions it will mostly benefit the young adults, the better-educated and higher income individuals of who most have a higher initial endowment of health. This will further amplify the social economical, health related inequalities that exist in industrialized societies. (McConnel &Turner, 2005)

The anti-ageing interventions may seem like they would eventually alleviate ageism by increasing longevity of life but their success also brings with it a great challenge. A shift to a population with a greater proportion of older individuals will thus increase consumption at the expense of saving. It should be understood that it hard to expand life expectancy beyond the maximum life span that is documented to have been achieved. It is nonsensical to imagine of an immortal human being. This leaves us with one option that should be; to principally aim at promoting maximum health span by reducing symptoms and delaying progression of age related illness. This is the focus of biogerontology. Biogerontologist have a goal of extending the proportion of a life that is healthy, an outcome that is desirable both at an individual and at a societal level.(Bagley et al,2011) This may go a long way in assuaging ageism in the society

While it is right and proper that society recognizes and values every individual on his or her own terms, and for what they are, it can and should continue to strive to address the fundamental biomedical issues that influence quality life in the later day. Biogerontology seeks to understand the changes that occur in all of us as we age that contribute to age-related degenerations and diseases, with a view to exploiting this knowledge to identify new approaches to these conditions. (Bagley et al, 2011). This way the old people will fell less discriminated against since they will understand the concerted effort as an attempt to make their last days on earth more bearable. With an increased health span, the older people with be a less ‘cost burden’ to the society as well as the economy. These will inculcate a positive attitude towards the old in the society and thus lightening ageism in a big way. The result will be older people with positive perception of ageing than negative images of growing older. 

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