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April 13th, 2017 by Arcadia Weekly
From commercials to films, our culture is saturated with images portraying young people as the standard. In Los Angeles County, this message goes deeper since Hollywood is well known for its emphasis on using younger characters in movies. With these messages, whether hidden or not, how can our cities, from Pasadena to Arcadia, age well and respect older people? This article will highlight five generations and what each can do to tackle this issue for a more tolerant and inclusive society. While change does not happen overnight, embarking on these action points, although not exhaustive, will be helpful for everyone.
Silent Generation and older cohorts (born before 1945): From American comic-book writer Stan Lee to Actor Morgan Freeman, who took acting lessons at the Pasadena Playhouse, this group can use their voices to speak out against ageism – prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a person’s age. Advocacy and connecting with others within and from other generations can go a long way in changing the conversation on aging.
Baby boomers (generally from 1946 to 1964): Baby boomers are the wealthiest, most active, and most physically fit generation in the U.S. Like Generation Z below, this cohort can engage with younger generations to improve intergenerational connections. From imparting wisdom on various topics, baby boomers can leave a lasting impact for future generations as well as continue to influence their cultures.
Generation X (early-to-mid 1960s to late 1970s to early 1980s) Gen Xers’ entrepreneurial tendencies can help create a booming marketplace for older people in Pasadena. There is a lack of products for people 50+ so Gen Xers’ can tackle this problem by launching new businesses around the city. This group may also volunteer or work in start-ups to make products that are unique to older populations such as iPad’s and more – learn about Aging2.0 Los Angeles which was founded by two Gen Xers Katy Fike and Stephen Johnston.
Millennials (early 1980s to mid-1990s): As the largest generation in the USA, Millennials have an important role to play in shaping current culture. Known as the generation with increased use and familiarity of communications and digital technologies, Millennials can spread the message of positive aging, both in Pasadena and beyond. It also helps that Pasadena is ranked as a best city for Millennials. So the more Millennials in the city, the greater the cultural impact.
Generation Z: (mid-1990s to early 2000s): Generation Z is the first to have Internet technology so readily available at a very young age. With their comfort and familiarity with computers, this cohort (about 25 percent of the U.S. population) can engage in assisting their grandparents and/ or older adults in computer-related tasks. Such connections can only improve intergenerational relationships within families and cities at large.
In the end, aging affects society because everyone is growing older – from an infant to a grandmother. For instance, we ask “How old are you now?” and answer “I am 10 years old today.” Growing older is nothing to be ashamed of. And the terms “old” and “aging” can actually be positive if we change the narrative. As Drew Barrymore, American actress and producer, frankly states, “From my perspective, there’s no reason to be afraid of aging, because if you age, you’re lucky! The alternative is death.”
If each generation can learn and engage positively with each other, our culture will have value and respect for ALL people.