Remember our youthful mantra "don't trust anyone over 30..."?
Apparently many businesses and institutions agree...but make that over 50.
Boomers have successfully fought for, and won, major battles against other "isms" - racism, sexism, anti-enviromentalism - so why are we not able to combat the social prejudice against aging?
This is most likely the biggest stumbling block for us, and I believe the main reason we haven't fought this as diligently as we have other social ills: too many of us also believe younger is better, thus we slather, slice, and cover up all we can in our effort to look young. A pity, since, in my opinion, we've earned those crow's feet and silver hairs, wear them well, and enjoy the many benefits that come with being older and wiser.
So, step one, start appreciating the pros of aging rather than promoting the myth that younger is better, and spread the word loud, proud, & clear.
Fact is, we're remaining in the work force longer than our parents did, so we must be prepared to handle the resulting push-back. Here's how:
Rewrite your resume without the decades-old experience - concentrate on the past 10 years at most, and highlight your accomplishments over job duties
Update your skill-sets if you're currently behind the times (a reality check with your adult kids will do the trick)
Be prepared to professionally counter current age-related myths, like;
- Boomers cost more for health insurance (in fact, younger workers are more likely to get sports injuries, get pregnant, or have children in need of costly medical care)
- Boomers are too old to learn the newest ways of conducting business (in fact, Boomers were always learning the newest ways of conducting business, including being the first to use computers)
- Boomers don’t have the same energy as younger workers (in fact, Boomers are quite vibrant even at middle age, unlike any generation before them)
- Boomers will take the job and then leave in a year or two for retirement (in fact, many Boomers plan to work for at least a decade to come, and with Social Security set to raise its age for qualification to 67, even those who didn’t want to keep working will have to)
Of course, if you believe you can prove age discrimination in a company's hiring/workplace practices, first know your rights/responsibilities under the law, then seek the help of a lawyer - and not just any lawyer but one who handles age discrimination cases only. Use this link to find one.
...for yourself or your elder loved ones. I regularly fought this battle as my parents' advocate/caretaker, and at times now for myself. Not so terrific doctors will fall back on the "oh it's just your age..." rhetoric when they're stumped; great doctors know how to factor age into the equation while continuing to look for solutions. If you feel you've been discriminated against due to age in any medical/hospital system, complaining about it to yourself or family members won't change it; go right to the top - contact the head of the system or managing doctor, calmly explain what happened (give concrete examples) along with your expectation that such behavior will be remedied. Include your promise that you cannot recommend them to others until you feel they've taken action. Before contacting anyone, though, run the situation by a few folks of varying ages to make sure you're on solid ground - if they see it, too, most likely you're not being overly sensitive.
Do some consciousness raising - your own and your friends'/family: Plenty of products/services are not only age-friendly, but market specifically to Boomers. Find out who they are and spend your dollars there (Dove, Toyota, and surprisingly, Hollywood are a few examples). Rather than quietly cursing the companies using 20 something's to model everything we use too, start rewarding the companies smart enough to know we're a powerful spending block and market accordingly. If willing, take a little time to remind businesses not targeting us that Boomers don't just need life insurance/Cialis/pharmaceuticals - we use everything younger consumers do, and have more money to spend on them.
From changes to Social Security/Medicare to bills designed to ease age-related discrimination in housing/long-term care funding, don't miss an opportunity to flex Boomers' mighty constituent muscle. I find the best way to stay informed is a newspaper subscription, but a weekly Google search will also do the trick. Oh, and we're not at all too old to renew our protesting activities; works as well today as it did in our youth.
Teach your children well
Age discrimination is perpetuated by the young - clearly with our "don't trust anyone over 30" mantra we did the same when we were their age.
There's plenty we can do to end the practice of older-age discrimination...and it's up to each of us to do it.
You have been officially alerted...