“Ageism is the last acceptable prejudice,” says Ashton Applewhite, but it doesn’t have to be. In her just-released, standing ovation-nabbing TED Talk about the misconceptions that surround getting older, Applewhite offers clear ways we can change our minds—and actions—related to aging.
Author of This Chair Rocks (as well as several New York Times bestselling books), Applewhite’s funny, galvanizing talk addresses and swiftly dismantles the false vision we have of aging and and the elderly. “We’re all worried about some aspect of getting older, and those fears are legitimate and real. But the experience of reaching old age can be better or worse depending on the culture in which it takes place,” she explains. So, how do we move past this, while still acknowledging the ageism that colors our language and perceptions? How do we change the culture that makes life less livable for the elderly? “It’s time to ditch the Old/Young binary,” says Applewhite, by which she means refusing to perpetuate the prejucices that obscure the truth about aging: that most of us get happier in old age; that only 4% of American elders end up in nursing homes, and that the number is decreasing. “Prejudices pit us against each other,” argues Applewhite. But when we practice ageism, we’re limiting our own comfort and self-acceptance, because all of us, every day of our lives, are getting older. We can’t stop that—but we can stop judging ourselves and others for it.
To learn more about the Lavin Agency’s diverse slate of TED Fellows, visit our dedicated TED microsite here.