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Removing Negative Stereotypes of Old Age

Ouachita Council on Aging
Ouachita Council on Aging
It is important to create new and positive conversations about old age

Aging is a natural and a normal process.  Unfortunately, our society has a negative stereotype of aging.  The words “old” or “elderly” have a negative connotation for most people.   Education is the key to dispelling myths and removing stereotypes about aging.

Dr. Ron Berry, dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences at the University of Louisiana Monroe, pointed out that the key roles of a university are “to improve the community, to improve lives, and to have a positive impact on society… and certainly Gerontology is a field where we can create those changes and have those impacts.”  An institution of higher education can “create conversations not only across campus but across the community.”  He stressed that “we are trying to change the conversations, we are trying to change the terminology that’s being used when people talk about the elderly.”

Listen to the complete interview with Dr. Ron Berry.

Referring to an increasing aging population due to the aging of the baby boomers, Berry explained, “we are at a point where the baby boomers are retiring and it is being estimated that they are going to transfer approximately 30 Trillion dollars to the Millennial generation in the form of inheritances.  So you think about the wealth transfer from one generation to the other and the opportunities that will present.” 

He added that “the Millennials are more inclined to give to causes to make a difference than to put their name on a building.”

Berry asserted “it is important for us to send our students out into the world to make a difference…not just a dollar.”

Anita Sharma Ph.D., LCSW, is a Gerontology and Social Work Educator, Researcher, and Practitioner. She holds an M.A. in Medical and Psychiatric Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, a prestigious social sciences university in India, a Master of Social Work (clinical practice) and a Doctorate in Social Work from Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Louisiana and serves as a pro bono consultant to various agencies.
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