Ageism is a widespread issue that can affect every person on the planet. It can affect people of all races, genders and cultures around the globe. Ageism can be present in the workplace, at home, on TV, at the grocery store and in all aspects of daily life.
Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D, is widely considered to be one of the world’s leading minds in cultural, social and business opportunities in the studies of aging. He is a sociologist, a gerontologist, and the best-selling author of 18 books. Dychtwald founded the company Age Wave, an acclaimed research group and think-tank focused on aging and longevity.
Dychtwald is standing up against ageist beliefs and working to spread a positive message about how the world should view aging.
“I’m tired of the fact that people don’t want to be older,” Dychtwald told Growing Bolder CEO Marc Middleton. “Life is a cycle. Life has an arc. We become more of who we are as we age.”
One of the biggest hurdles that Dychtwald sees in combating ageism is the representation of older adults in mainstream media.
“It’s nasty that just because you’re 60 or 70, you don’t see yourself represented in TV,” Dychtwald said. “If you’re in a movie, you’re some kind of goofball uncle. We’ve got this thing wrong.”
When it comes to the strategies he thinks are key for fighting back against ageism in society, Dychtwald pointed to the importance of intergenerational relationships.
“I think that we need better relationships between the generations,” Dychtwald explained. “I think those of us who are older need to be more connected to the young, both because we can teach them a little bit of what we’ve learned, and I think there’s so much to be extracting from young people: their music, their beats, their sounds, their passions, their fears, and their hopes.”
Although the fight against ageism is far from over, Dychtwald acknowledged that he has seen signs of a cultural shift beginning as more people begin to feel optimistic about growing older.
“Boomers are coming along, there’s a lot of us. We’ve changed industries every step of the way,” Dychtwald said. “We want to keep learning. We want to fall in love again. We’re wanting to try new things. We’re wanting to be entrepreneurs. So I think not only is this huge demographic push going on, more and more longer-lived people, but there’s a whole new attitude coming along.”
Dychtwald is not alone in his views on combating ageism. Growing Bolder’s Marc Middleton, Secily Wilson, Bill Shafer and Amy Sweezey shared their own experiences on an episode of “What’s Next!” and discussed what they’ve learned about fighting back against ageist beliefs.