My name is Christina, but you can refer to me as… Christina. It's crazy how a thought can cross your mind over and over, you ignore it, but it continues to pop-up at the most random times. Blogging was never something I saw myself doing. EVER. I can recall the moments leading up to the launch of this blog and how I came up with every possible excuse to why I shouldn't go through with it, but in life you gotta shoot ya shot and see what happens.
What made me give in was when I decided to look up blogs geared towards older adults, ya know just to learn more about my area of interest. The thing is, while researching these different aging blogs, I noticed none of them really catered to younger generations or people of color. By catering to younger generations, I mean the information provided wouldn't necessarily inspire the average young adult to want to learn more about aging. At least not in my opinion. So, I grabbed some courage and told myself "just start typing."
Now it’s time to #levelup and start writing about the field of Gerontology. Gero-what?! Ha! Say it with me “Jer-un-tol-uh-jee.” Now you’ve got it! Okay, so now that we can pronounce the word, “what the heck is it?” you ask. Well, it is the study of aging and it is so broad that we all come across it in our every day lives because WE ARE ALL AGING.
Since I was a kid, I have always gravitated towards older adults (see the picture above of my nappy head hugging a resident, whom I didn't know, in a nursing home). I cannot pinpoint what it is that I like/d so much about older adults, but the feeling I had in this picture has never left. I am constantly thinking of ways to be involved with them.
One of my areas of focus is an “ism” known as AGEISM, which is stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination towards people because of their age. Do you think you are an ageist? Based on the definition I just gave on ageism, you may draw the conclusion that you are not, but real talk somewhere down the line you have been/are an ageist. Ageism is so common, that oftentimes we don't realize when we are participating in such an act. It shows up in our communication about aging, in how we treat older adults and sometimes how we view ourselves.
For example, I remember my 60-year old mom and I were walking along an icy sidewalk during one of the many snow days (this cold weather and random occasions of wintery mixes have gotsta go) and I grabbed her hand and said “awe let me help the little old lady, so she doesn’t fall.” What was ageist about that? Well, I insinuated that her age would bring complications to her effectively and safely walking on a sidewalk without falling. It was a joke and we both laughed, but that my friend is AGEISM.
Need a better example? Okay, I'll give another one. At times I struggle with what I am going to wear, when I am forced to leave my apartment. I try on several outfits and I get to a point where I ask myself "does this make me look old?" What does "old" look like? Another form of ageism. Let's not get on the way we view older adults who slow us down on the highway, how we think they are are grumpy, or how we talk about ourselves when we see the signs of us getting older. Understand that although some jokes or comments are innocent and come from a good place, that these thoughts have been learned through how we view or have witnessed older adults overtime.
There are other examples and situations that are way more offensive and are nowhere near laughable that older adults face, with regards to ageism and quite frankly, enough is enough. How can we vow to "stay woke," but overlook a population that has paved the way for us? How can sexism and racism be unacceptable, but it is okay for us to participate in ageism, which also has a negative impact on people? We have to be more conscious about our preconceived notions of people with regards to their age and we must stop giving in to the stereotypes that have developed over the years about aging and what it should or shouldn't look like.
My purpose of having a blog, such as Gero-what?!, is to educate the people, my people, your people, all people about the importance of changing how we view aging. There is more to aging than becoming ill, frail and having memory issues, which none of these are even normal age changes. If we change how we think about getting older, our generation, those before us, and the ones to come will be better equipped for aging well. Gero-what?! will also provide resources for those who are caring for loved ones, new or old policies related to older adults, the underestimated value of older adults, and most importantly be the CHANGE we all want to see on this earth! That last part was slightly cliché, but so!