We all like to think we’re not prone to discriminate against older people. But Dr. Robert Butler, who coined the term “ageism” in 1968, believes there’s a lot of it in this country.
In his 2008 book, The Longevity Revolution: The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life (PublicAffairs), Dr. Butler notes that conventional wisdom reinforces several ageist stereotypes:
1. “Decreased birth rates are disadvantageous” (i.e., we need more workers to support all these old people).
2. “Welfare state-type social protections are unsustainable.”
3. “The aging population accounts for rising health costs.”
4. “Excessive medical costs are associated with the end of life.”
5. “AARP is the most powerful lobby in Washington.”