Robert Butler was the author of “Why Survive? Being Old in America,” published in 1975. Butler is credited with coining the term “ageism” to describe the act of discriminating against older people. When we think of ageism, it is difficult to separate an ageist mindset from the egregious offense of nursing home abuse.
Members of one of our most vulnerable populations — older adults — are too often neglected and abused in our country’s nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. While there isn’t yet a solid body of research linking ageism to elder abuse, we as members of society can certainly do our part to raise awareness about the ways in which ageism can lead to the marginalization and mistreatment of vulnerable adults.
For example, ageism rigidly defines older people as senile, slow, old-fashioned and foundationally different from younger people, but the reality is that getting older doesn’t stop your life from being complex and ever changing.