Andy Gaines: Thank you so much for coming out to join us for this public launch of the Age Equity for All initiative here in Berkeley. Yeah. You’ll hear more about it. My name’s Andy Gaines and I’m the Executive Director of Ashby Village. We’re a community led by older adults who share their skills, support and expertise with each other to navigate the challenges and the opportunities of aging.
For the last several years, I have had the honor of working closely with Cary Sweeney, the Director of UC Berkeley Retirement Center, in creating programs that provide opportunities for aging adults from the University and throughout the community to engage with age in new and innovative ways. When I heard about Ashton doing a speaking tour to promote her book, This Chair Rocks, which we’re going to hear more about, I immediately contacted Cary to envision today’s event. With her gerontological background, Cary has been keenly aware of the issue of ageism, and saw this as a much bigger opportunity than a single event.
Researching into the arsenal of tools Ashton has developed to mobilize against discrimination on the basis of age, Cary proposed gathering a group together to begin consciousness raising about ageism, using the power of personal experiences to unpack unconscious prejudices and to call for social change. For the last few months, a group of us have been meeting to read the book, share personal experiences, plan this event and vision how we can invite others, like each of you, to join us in this Age Equity for All initiative.
Today’s event will begin with a brief presentation by Ashton, followed by a moderated Q&A. During the Q&A, we’ll invite you to write your questions on the cards and pass them down to the ends of the aisle, I expect towards the outside. We’ll let you know. These questions will be collected, grouped and presented to Ashton for response. Following the Q&A, we’ll distribute a brief survey that will provide us with valuable information about your experiences and interests to help guide future activities of the Age Equity for All initiative. At the end, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase her book in the back, to get Ashton’s signature, and she’ll do some signing and saying hello in the back.
About Ashton. In 2016, I was delighted to hear Ashton speak, author and activist. She gave a keynote speech at the national Village to Village Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Her incisive, witty, and convincing talk shined the light on ageism, stereotyping and discrimination based on age. Ashton spoke to us about experiencing ageism. Whenever someone assumes we’re too old for something, an activity … For example, an activity, a way that we’re relating, something that we’re doing, instead of finding out who we are and what we’re capable of.
She also spoke about ageism cutting both ways, that also we’re too young for things, and so we’re delighted to be sharing this at the University with both younger adults and older adults and people of all ages here to share. It’s clear that she’s a messenger of our time, and I’m delighted to welcome Ashton to share with you some words.
Ashton Applewhite: Thank you. Thank you everyone for coming out on this beautiful day. I know it’s a weekday, but I appreciate … I’m running around from pillar to post, so thank you, Andy. I love the idea that it’s a panel and I hope you will … This topic is so unexamined. I hope you’ll have a bunch of questions and not be shy about asking hard ones.
We’re going to go right to the belly of the beast. How does that word make you feel? I used to feel the same way. I started this project about 12 years ago when I was 55 because I was afraid of getting old. My darkest fear? Ending up in some grim, institutional hallway. Then I learned that the percentage of Americans over 65 is two and a half percent. It’s dropped from four just in the last, just in the decade that I’ve been working on this. Even for people 85 and up, the number is only 9%. What else was I worried about? Dementia.
If you subtract the percentage of people over 65 in nursing homes, 90 percent of the remainder is cognitively fit. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease and it is a real public health challenge, but it is not typical of aging. Even as the population ages, the dementia rates are falling significantly. Sometimes, I say I’m in the both sides of the story business. It’s not that our fears about aging aren’t real. It’s that we never hear both sides of the story, so our fears are way out of proportion. There are more cases of Alzheimer’s because there’s more older people in the population, but the odds of anyone in this room being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are getting lower and lower, and people are being diagnosed at later ages. The real epidemic is anxiety over memory loss.
I also assumed that old people were depressed because they were old, and they were going to die soon. It turns out that people are happiest at the beginnings and the ends of their lives. It’s called the U-shaped happiness curve. I gave a talk in Berkeley yesterday and a woman came up, she said, “Where’s the study about that curve?” I said, told her, which is true, and it’s all footnoted in the book and on my blog, ThisChairRocks.com/blog, which is searchable by topic. This data has been borne out by study after study in the U.S. and around the world. You don’t have to be a Buddhist or a billionaire. It is a function of the way … I mean, I was so skeptical. I thought, “Well that’s fine if you’re rich. That’s fine if you’re healthy.”
It obtains across class, across health, across medical status. It’s a function of the way aging itself affects the healthy brain. Slowly, skeptically, gears grinding, I realized that my old age was likely to be different and way better than the grim slide into depression, diapers, and puffy white shoes of my nightmares. Life is cruel. That was before I started having to see a podiatrist.
I started feeling a lot better about getting older, and I started obsessing about why so few people know these things. The reason, as Andy just pointed out, is ageism. That is the dictionary definition. I love that Andy uses mine, which is, “Any judgment about someone or a group of people based on how old we think they are.” It cuts both ways, and younger people experience a lot of it. Just like aging is not just something annoying that old people and parents do. It’s something that we embark on the day we’re born.
All prejudice, ageism, sexism, racism are socially constructed ideas. That’s just fancy speak for, “We make them up.” They change over time, and they serve a social and economic purpose. Prejudice is not about how we look. It’s about what people in power want our appearance to mean. Stereotyping underlies all prejudice. The assumption that all members of a group are alike, which is, of course, always ignorance and wrong. Especially when it comes to age, because the longer we live, the more different from one another we become. Yet we tend to think of everyone in a retirement home, like Ashby Village perhaps, as the same age, that would be old, when they can span four decades. Can you imagine people thinking the same way about a group of people between say age 15 and 55, who are in fact, far more homogenous than a group of people from 50 to 90?
Pitting young against old, like pitting groups of low wage workers against each other, or the interest of stay-at-home moms against moms in the paid workforce is a time honored tactic … I feel like everyone in Berkeley must know this … Used to divide groups who might otherwise join forces and challenge the status quo, and work for a fairer world. It’s so fantastic. This whole Age Equity initiative. This “us or them” logic always pops up around healthcare rationing. Listen for it. “Why should we spend money on older people when we could spend it on kids?”
It is not ethical or legal to allocate resources by race or by sex, and weighing the needs of the old against the young is equally unacceptable, period. Thank you. The next time you encounter that reasoning, nip it in the bud. Old versus young ways of thinking also fail the common sense test. Communities that are good to grow old in, which means that they have parks and social services and public transportation, are good for everyone. They are all age-friendly. I’d love to change that wording, the age friendly wording, to be all age-friendly.
Nobody’s born ageist, but it starts in early childhood, around the same time that attitudes towards race and gender start to form. Because negative messages about late life come at us incessantly from every direction, starting with cartoons and children’s books. “Wrinkles are ugly. Old people are incompetent. It’s sad to be old.” We olders can be the most ageist of all because we have had a lifetime of hearing those messages and internalizing them, where they become part of our identity. Most of us have never thought to question them, unless we challenge the underlying message that to age is to lose value as a human being. It’s that basic and that ugly. It becomes part of our identity and that’s internalized ageism.
I had to acknowledge my own prejudices and stop colluding. Senior moment quips, for example, I stopped making them when it dawned on me that when I lost the car keys in high school, I didn’t call it a junior moment. I mean, kids forget things too all the time. Like I stopped blaming my sore knee on being 66 because my other knee feels fine and it’s just as old. I mean that’s … Listen for that in yourself. The reflexive tendency to blame something on age when age may have something to do with it, but it may not, so interrogate that.
What’s the hardest prejudice to let go of? The one against myself, my own future, older self. All prejudice relies on othering. Seeing a group of people as different, other than yourself, whether it’s other nationality, other color, other sports team, whatever. The strange thing about ageism is that “other” is our own future, older self. Ageism feeds on denial. Our reluctance to connect to that, to acknowledge that we are going to get old, that we might even be old. It is denial when we try to pass for younger, or believe in anti-aging products, or get offended when someone politely offers us a seat on the bus.
Age denial blinds us to our own bias and perpetuates it in a thousand ways. It is not having a vagina that makes life harder for women, it’s sexism. It’s not loving a man that makes life harder for gay guys, it’s homophobia. It is not the passage of time that makes getting older in America so much harder than it has to be, it is ageism. When labels are hard to read or there’s no handrail or we can’t open the damn jar, we think, “I should be more limber. I should be better prepared, I should be stronger.” We blame ourselves instead of the ageism that makes those natural transitions shameful and the discrimination that makes those barriers acceptable.
When we dye our hair just to cover the gray, and god bless Berkeley because I see more gray hair in this audience than I ever see anywhere else. Or leave early accomplishments off our resumes or lie about our age, we reinforce age shame. These are really successful strategies, and I completely understand why so many of us engage in them. No judgment whatsoever, I swear. They’re like a gay person trying to pass for straight or a person of color passing for white. They’re not good for us because they’re rooted in shame about something that shouldn’t be shameful, and they give a pass to the underlying discrimination that makes these behaviors necessary. For those of us who face other kinds of discrimination like lesbians and people of color, the costs are even higher.
Aging is not a problem to be fixed or a disease to be cured. It is a natural, powerful, life-long process that unites us all. You can’t make money off satisfaction, but shame and fear create markets. Capitalism always needs new markets. Who says wrinkles are ugly? The multi-billion dollar anti-aging piece alone of the skincare industry. Who says perimenopause and low T and mild cognitive impairment are medical conditions? The trillion dollar pharmaceutical industry.
I heard an ad … I’m in a hotel, so I’m listening to the TV, and someone is advertising some pill to improve short-term memory. I don’t think so. Sorry. We know that is, of course, people love this market because everyone is going to come down with it, if potions and pills can cure it. The more clearly we see these forces at work, the easier it is to envision alternative, more positive and more accurate narratives. This is not, I didn’t cherry pick the feel good science here, believe me. The evidence is in the book. The longer we wait, the more damage these ideas do to ourselves and our place in the world.
Longer lives require working longer and saving more. Yet two-thirds of Americans say they’ve experienced discrimination in the workplace. A ProPublica story that came out at the end of the year, you might have seen, showed that over half of workers in their 50s did not leave their jobs of their own volition. Engineers in Silicon Valley are getting Botoxed and hair plugged before key interviews, and these are skilled white men in their 30s, so imagine the effects further down the food chain. The personal and economic consequences are devastating, as I suspect many of you have experienced, certainly your friends.
Not one negative stereotype about older workers is true. Experience is an asset, not a liability. It’s kind of crazy to even have to say that out loud. We know that diverse workplaces aren’t just better places to work, they work better. Just like gender and race, age is a criterion for diversity. Put that out in the world too. Ask people what they think. People don’t usually say age, but when I add age to the list, no one says, “That’s a dumb idea. I’ll get back to you.” They’re like, “Duh.” These are new ideas, but the “ah ha” moments are right there. The pushback is way less than we think, I think. Pushback against age discrimination, and workers of all ages benefit. The flexibility and accessibility that older workers need also is great for students and people with disabilities and anyone trying to make a living in a heartless gig economy.
The data around health is fascinating. We know that ageism in medicine means worse treatment, less treatment, often no treatment at all for older people. Doctors spend more time with younger patients and tend to take their concerns more seriously, even though they have less, fewer health issues. Why should we accept a different standard of care for older people? Again, that is institutional ageism at work. Internalized ageism matters too, a lot. A growing body of fascinating research shows that attitudes towards aging have a measurable affect on how our bodies function at the cellular level.
People with more positive feelings about aging, which again just means more realistic feelings about aging, walk faster, heal quicker from severe disability, not just stubbing your toe, and live longer. A whopping seven and a half years longer on average. That’s why the World Health Organization, “Health,” not the World Oldness Organization, the World Health Organization, is developing a global anti-ageism campaign to extend not just lifespan but health span. The percentage of those years, obviously, in which we’re healthy.
Sadly, there is no evidence that Sudoku or brain training confer any real protection against cognitive decline. Study after study shows that attitudes towards aging matter a lot. People who associate old age with growth and purpose are less likely to develop dementia, even if they have the gene that predisposes them to the disease. The positive beliefs, the thinking goes, help keep us healthy by buffering stress and prejudice, the effects of ageism.
Equating aging with disease and decrepitude, on the other hand, makes us more vulnerable to exactly that. We also know, and I remember, like when I first encountered … This is not recent research. I was so incredulous. People who stayed sharp right to the end, their brains, many of them, were filled with Alzheimer’s type plaques and tangles. What did those people have in common? A sense of purpose. Purpose doesn’t have to be to cure cancer. It can be to beat Mrs. Kravitz at bridge tomorrow morning. Purpose can be small.
What’s the biggest obstacle to having a purpose in late life? A culture that tells us that getting older means shuffling offstage. Ageism again. How about a public health campaign? Any public health people out there? to end ageism. Women face the double whammy of ageism and sexism, so we experience aging differently. Giving my talk tonight at the Institute on Aging, on Aging Well Female, which is really take no prisoners. There is a double standard at work here. Shocker. The notion that aging enhances men and devalues women.
We women reinforce this double standard when we compete to stay young, which, of course, no one can do. Another punishing and losing proposition, when we rank older women by age, which we all do. Me too. We reinforce ageism, sexism, lookism the idea, of course, that the most important thing about a woman is how she looks, and patriarchy. You do not need a PhD in women’s studies to know that this behavior is not good for us. It sets us up to fail. Once again, it pits us against each other, and it affects our income and our health and wellbeing, which is, of course, compounded again by race and by class. Which is why everywhere in the world, the sickest of the sick and poorest of the poor are old women of color.
Quote, “Ageism allows the younger generations to see older people as different from themselves, thus they subtly cease to identify with their elders as human beings,” unquote. Dr. Robert Butler, who coined the word “ageism” in 1969 he died about five years ago, but I got to meet him a number of times, and dedicated the book to him. He was amazing. That’s that othering thing again. When we see people as other than ourselves, their welfare, even their basic rights seem less important and less worth defending. That’s one reason five out of six, conservatively, incidents of elder abuse go unreported. Unlike domestic violence or child abuse, we don’t talk about it much. Neither do many victims who are embarrassed by their vulnerability, ashamed to ask for help and worst of all, think they may not deserve it. That is internalized ageism at work, reinforcing structural discrimination.
Feeling alienated from older people and apprehensive at becoming like us is not natural. It is not inevitable. It is the result of social forces, ageism, sexism and capitalism, whether in school or at work or in church or at play. Age segregation impoverishes us because it cuts us off from most of humanity, especially in the U.S. where very few people … There’s a study, it’s in the new edition of the book. Some shockingly small percentage of people have a friend more than 10 years younger or older, which is nothing, that’s not even a generation, with whom they would discuss an important personal matter. Discrimination sanctions segregation and isolation, which are the biggest threats to a good old age. An intergenerational world, obviously, is straight up a better world.
For those of us with access to healthcare and education, for the first time in human history, four and even five living generations are becoming commonplace. The institutions around us were created when life was shorter. It’s not all ageism. They have not had time to catch up. That gives us an incredibly important window of opportunity to shape a world that supports people of all ages. Population aging is a permanent global phenomenon.
To take advantage of this longevity dividend, we need to quit the reflex of hand wringing and challenge the ageist assumptions that underlie it, and think realistically and imaginatively about how to shape the multi-generational society that we all hope to live long enough to inhabit. Which is, again, why it’s really exciting that you at Ashby Village and Berkeley as a whole are tackling it. It is going to take all hands on deck and all ages.
Where do we go from here? Tap into what we know. Growing older isn’t just different from what we’ve been brainwashed to believe. It’s way better. It’s not, again, it’s not that the losses are not real, but aging brings authenticity, confidence, perspective, self-awareness. My mother said her legs got better, but to be fair, she started out with great legs. Priorities are clearer. It’s easier to manage emotions. We care less about what people think, which is really liberating, especially for women.
We want less. That’s why I’ve never met anyone who actually wants to go back to their youth. You can’t just swap out the better bits. Because our years are what make us, us, and everyone knows that. Entire industries, multimillion dollar industries are built on convincing people that my 66-year-old face and body are hideous. The idea of reinforcing the idea that old equals ugly, especially for women. A system designed to exploit our insecurities can only do so if we consent to it. Instead of muttering, “What the hell happened?” at the face in the mirror, which we all do, how about taking a minute to recall some of the things that did happen and how amazing some of them were?
Listen to ad man, Chuck Nyren, on older women’s bodies, which offer quote, “Contours aplenty shapes galore, curves, mounds, crannies.” Afterwards you think about what you didn’t get to yet. Why does that seem so damn radical? Why didn’t we think of that? Let’s not delude ourselves. This is the work of a lifetime. We need to embark on it with others and with all ages. I really want someone to develop a consciousness raising group for women, because if women of all ages came together, younger women would be less afraid of getting older and we older women would remember how hard it was to be young, and be less threatened and be more generous.
We can insist … Remember, none of this stigma is natural and none of it is fixed. We can insist on being seen and being valued as our full, rich, lumpy, complicated selves and take that change out into the world. In India, where the vast majority of olders live with their families, there’s nothing demeaning about receiving care and support of all kinds, including with toileting. Imagine that. The terms and power dynamics are going to shift and a lot of those changes are not going to be welcome, but the goal is to learn, to give and receive with grace. To remember these are two-way transactions. Autonomy requires collaborators. No one is truly independent, ever.
I hope you will not use age independence or valorize independence as the goal in your programming, and use the word interdependence instead because all of life is interdependence. Let’s acknowledge the need for helping hands, whatever age we are and reach for them gratefully and without shame. The most important component of a good old age, was hugely surprising to me, is not how healthy you are, which I assume would come first or how wealthy you are, but having a solid social network. If you don’t know people much older or younger than you, seek them out. Think of something you like to do … I mean, you can’t just grab a young person and say, “Hi, you’re really young. Let’s be friends.”
Think of something you like to do and find a mixed age group to do it with. Reading, going to hear music, knitting. Guys knit. In Brooklyn, where I’m from, they knit. Find a mixed age group to do it with. Most importantly, don’t stay home from something you’d like to do, or go to some hip neighborhood or some hip restaurant just because you’ll be the oldest person in the room. Don’t stay home just because you’ll stick out, because that is how desegregation happens. People with the …
You’ll stick out because that is how desegregation happens, people with the most at stake, olders in this case, because we live in such a youth-obsessed society, step up and step out. We stop conforming. And be open-minded, welcome us, and incremental social change takes place. Youngers benefit too, because otherwise, each generation has to figure out how dumb and destructive it is to fear growing older and how much of our youth we squander on worrying about it.
Dismantling ageism will require nothing less than a mass movement, like the 20th-century one that catalyzed the mass shift of women around the world. And as Andy referenced, women came together and share their stories and realized that what they’ve been thinking of as personal problems, not getting heard, getting harassed, not getting hired. I see heads nodding. I’m sure some of you were active in those groups in the ’70s, were widely shared political problems that required collective action.
There was a term, I just learned this last year, for that shift in awareness. Cognitive liberation. I think I like it so much because it speaks to the activist in me and the nerd in me. As we become of discrimination, stop accepting second class status as just the way it is and realize we can come together and do something about it. Cognitive liberation is a fantastic feeling, and it is the linchpin of movement building.
Changing the culture is a tall order, I know that. But culture is fluid. Look at Me Too and look at how far the gay rights and trans rights movement have come in just a few decades. And that’s about sex in a very puritan, squeamish culture. Ageism affects everyone. Look at gender. We used to think of it, most of us, as a binary, male or female. And now we understand it’s a spectrum. It is high time to ditch the old, young, binary, too. That’s why I use the term olders and youngers, which I’m happy to talk about in the Q&A. There is no line in the sand between old and young, after which it’s all downhill. And yet, everyone, especially late middle age, is terrified of being on the wrong side of that imagery velvet rope. And all that imaginary threshold does is segregate us and fill us with needless dread.
Everyone, all races, all genders, all nationalities, is old or future old. And until we put a stop to it, ageism will oppress us all. That’s what makes it a perfect target for collective advocacy and a unifying cause. I mean, in my dreams, we’ll come together around ageism in the mixed age group, obviously, and then use that power to address all the other pressing social justice issues. Why add another -ism to the list when so many, racism, in particular, call out for action?
Here’s the thing. We don’t have to choose. When we make the world a better place to grow old in, we make it a better place to be a woman, to be from somewhere else, to be queer, to be non-rich, to be non-white, to have a disability. And when we show up at all ages, for whatever cause is tugging at our sleeve, and there are so many, save the clinic, save the democracy, improve the neighborhood. We not only make that effort more effective, we dismantle ageism in the process. Longevity is here to stay. A movement to end ageism is underway. I’m in it. I hope everyone in this room will join me in it and thank you.
Actually, I’m going to do a tiny bit of … And then I’m going to switch it back to age pride because that would be much more fun. The book is for sale. It’s a fun read. Someone who’s actually read it promise to say that. You can find me on social media at @This Chair Rock. And there’s cards up front. I have a blog called Yo, Is This Ageist?, modeled on Yo, Is This Racist?, which is a fantastic Q&A blog where you can ask me questions. And I have a mailing list that’s going around. If you give me your email, I swear I will never give it away. I will not get it together to mail you very often. Who’s on my mailing list, who can attest to that? And so please let me … If you want to know how the movement is going, please sign up. Thank you. Okay.
Andy Gaines: Thanks so much, Ashton. So really, really appreciate your shining a light on ageism and helping us to launch this age equity for all initiative here in Berkeley. We’re going to head now into a moderated Q&A, which will begin with some questions from our two moderators. So I’m going to introduce them as they come up.
Cary Sweeney, who’s behind Anika is a director of UC Berkeley Retirement Center, dedicated to helping retirees and their families live well in retirement. This is a personal statement under Cary’s leadership. The retirement center has initiated innovative and promising partnerships with community organizations to improve the lives of … And I’m going to change the word from older adults to olders throughout the community. So that’s Cary. And then Anika Kumar is a UC Berkeley Molecular and Cell Biology Major and Public Policy Minor, graduating in 2021.
Anika is an education intern for Bears for Elder Welfare. And I in a conversation with Ashton before her that the terminology is more elderly is something that has a lot of connotations. So Bears for Older’s Welfare, a student group created to improve the welfare of local olders and to cultivate older appreciation among Berkeley students. So take it away.
Anika Kumar: I’ll get it started. I think I’m on. Yeah?
Ashton Applewhite: Yeah.
Anika Kumar: Okay. I’ll just talk like this. Thank you so much, Ashton, and we really appreciate you coming here today. And I think your approach is so unique.
Ashton Applewhite: I hope it will stop being so unique. I’m serious. I hope that everyone feels motivated to take the message out on your own terms.
Anika Kumar: Absolutely. And sometimes it just takes that first step for someone to bring everybody else along. You use humor, skepticism data. The book is a blast to read. I was sharing with you earlier, I’ve been reading gerontology books for 20 years, and this is the most fun I’ve had reading a book around Gerontology. So what got you started on the path?
Ashton Applewhite: I was afraid of getting old. I didn’t realize it at the time, and it was a chance comment of my mother in law who was in her ’80s at the time. She and her husband, Bill were booksellers. And she said, “Why don’t you write about something people ask us all the time? So when you’re going to retire?” And so I started interviewing people over 80, and learning about longevity. And it just encountered all these statistics about depression, about the fact that … I mean, I was so skeptical and so scared. I thought one of the awful things about getting older since it was obviously all awful, was that you got closer to death and you must be more and more frightened of that. I had this image of the shadow of the grim reaper, stretching across the Grimm said iron bedstead. And one of the things I learned was the longer people live, the less they feared dying, over and over and over. So it was this catalyst. So sort of why don’t we know these things? And that’s what got me started.
Cary Sweeney: Going off of that. One term that you use in your book and your various talks is that you’re an old person in training. And I think that’s kind of an interesting way to think about how we are growing up and living our lives in preparation for as we get older. So what exactly does that mean to you?
Ashton Applewhite: I didn’t invent the phrase, I learned it. I saw it from a geriatrician named Joanne Lynn when … I mean, I did this project about old people who work, and it was boring and dumb and even to me. And then I sort of floundered for a long time. And finally sort of found my voice. But that middle period I thought, “Well, that is what I become. I don’t really know what it means yet.” And then I came to understand that it is a way, it’s just a trick of thinking. It’s just a little click of imagination. But it is a way to make a connection, to break up that othering thing. I mean, when you are young, it is really hard to imagine being old. That’s not ageism, that’s human nature. But if you can acknowledge it, someday you will be old, which BS, no one wants to die young, it is imaginative and even a strategic connection to your future older self.
And I love it when a younger person says that because if you can avoid getting on this treadmill and spending all this energy fearing and trying to stop something that can’t be stopped and shouldn’t be stopped, you don’t get sucked into that. And also it’s sort of a tool because then when you see older, big people behaving in ways that you think makes sense or that you don’t like, you can say, “Oh, I want to try and remember to do that.” Or you look at the older people around you instead of pass them or through them. So that’s what it came to be for me.
Anika Kumar: While we’re talking, if you have your questions, please. Kristen, I think Steven are going around to collect cards. Please, also, there’s a lot of been that’s been sparked here. I have one question, but I have another one. Let’s talk semantics. It’s interesting. The conversation we had earlier and I was thinking about this, the semantics of aging and the importance of it. A lot of times when I start to talk about this and I’ll be having a conversation and someone will say, “Well, is that the right … Should I? Should I? I don’t know. Should I call them older adults? Should I call them …?” There’s a little uncertainty and we want people to have a confidence raising consciousness while having a confidence and then being a part of this dialogue, right. And my sense is not to get caught up in semantics, to be conscious of how we are, what we’re calling each other and the impact that that has on things.
Ashton Applewhite: Yeah, language is powerful.
Anika Kumar: Talk a little bit about your journey and sort of writing the book. You talk a lot about semantics and what you use olders, and just raising the importance of people’s consciousness around that.
Ashton Applewhite: Yeah. I mean, you use the term elderly, which is, of course, a term you’ve been using for 20 years. So I don’t want to be the thought police or come down on you like a ton of bricks. But a good rule of thumb is not to use a word describing anyone that they don’t use to describe themselves. And I’ve never heard anyone describe themselves as elderly. Part of the reason and is that elderly has a negative connotation of frail and disabled. It shouldn’t. But it does. Same with old. Ideally, we could all be old and be bold and be proud of it. But the fact is most of us don’t. The other thing I don’t like about elderly is that it’s often paired with The, to imply that at some point you cross that velvet rope and then you’re all those old sad, sick people. So I came up with olders and youngers as a private shorthand when I was writing the book. I mean, I’m a writer, I am really leery of inventing new words, I promise.
But I got tired of typing older adults and older Americans, and just shortened it to olders. And then I had youngers as the counterpart. And at some point, I realized it works. I mean, I’m sure that when you heard me say the word out loud, there was a little hiccup, but I don’t think anybody didn’t understand who I was referring to. And what I like about it is several things. I liked that its value-neutral. Elders is a beautiful word. Lots of people use it, more power to them. It’s not part of my culture. And I don’t love the idea the way it seems to give older people more value than younger people. I really think that every person, children deserve respect. And I like the way it busts the old young binary for reasons I already explained.
And also, it emphasizes the fact that we’re all always older than some people and younger and others. We’re depending. I mean, the 99-year-old will assure you that she’s younger than Mrs. Mcgillicutty and room 203, and that’s fine too. And lastly, in an ageist world, most of us are reluctant to identify as old. I don’t usually call myself … I’m still working on this stuff too. It’s probably obvious, but I’ll readily cop to being older. So it’s a way of getting us over that internalized ageism to say, “While I may not be … Obviously, I’m not young, I’ll be older.” So it’s a way of sort of, again, bridging that gap to your future older self and getting your part of the way there.
Anika Kumar: Budging.
Ashton Applewhite: Budging. Budging is fun.
Cary Sweeney: Thank you. I’ll segue. I guess it gives you some things to think about it, and I think a way to bring people along to raise consciousness around this issue. You touched on it on your talk, but you talked about … I sometimes hear from folks that come by our center, “Oh, I’m not going to go to that department meeting,” or, “I’m not going to go to that because all of the folks who are younger than me.”
Ashton Applewhite: Or there’ll be older people there.
Cary Sweeney: Or vice a versa. “They’re all young people and they don’t want me there.” Or, “I’m older, and I don’t want to go hang out with a bunch of older people,” that too.
Ashton Applewhite: Yeah, I mean …
Cary Sweeney: So you spoke to it a little bit to … Maybe dive a little deeper around … It’s real to people, right?
Ashton Applewhite: It’s real, but it’s ignorant. It’s totally understandable. No judgment. You can’t make someone go somewhere they don’t want to do. But the idea that a young person is going to roll their eyes when you head towards them. I mean, maybe a tiny percentage is, but those are not the people who are ever going to be our friends, not to mention proponents of social change. Most younger people aren’t going to pay any attention at all. And because we live in such an age of society, we have this idea that, “Oh, because there’s an age gap, we won’t have anything in common,” which is just frankly nuts. Talk about what you’re reading. Talk about what’s in the newspaper, talk about sex, talk about Bernie Sanders. Talk about anything. Age is a bogus divide, and lots of younger people, I think, although I can’t speak for younger people, are actually really happy to make connections with older people who might know something about or have a connection or be able to support them in some way.
This divide is built … It is in that internalized ageism, that because I am old, I am either not interesting or they’re going to think I’m not interesting. So try and break the habit. When you show up at a social event, don’t make a beeline for people your own age and see what happens. I mean, I’m pretty sure you’ll be rewarded. The business about not wanting to go to the senior center because of all the old people there, That’s just flat out internalized ageism, that reluctance to see ourselves as older. And this idea that I’ll look old if I go hang out there. Although every topic here is double-edged, ideally community centers would also have intergenerational programs and wouldn’t be just old people playing lame bingo. Same with gerontology. I mean, I’ve heard gerontologists, progressive gerontologist say, “We need to change the feel. I’m curious to know what you think about this from just the study of oldness, which tends to be conflated them with the physical decline that is an inevitable part of aging.”
They’re only too inevitable bad things about aging. Some part of your body is going to fall apart, not all of it. And you’re going to lose people you’ve known all your life, which is why another reason it’s so important to make that beeline for some young person. But in order to adapt to a world of longer lives and stay important and relevant to all ages, gerontology needs to become lifespan studies. But then have you put yourself out of work? And these are tough huge questions. This is a huge unprecedented global shift we’re living through.
Anika Kumar: Going off of that, one thing that you talk about this that you and I have in common and that we have in common with everybody in this room is that every single day we all get a day older, we all age. And I think that’s especially interesting because I’ve noticed among people of my generation who might be considered the youngers, we don’t experience ageism the same way and we don’t consider it as pressing of an issue just because we’re not in it. And so I’m just wondering what your thoughts are on how younger generations are perpetuating ageism and what we can do to combat it. Because we are as you say, discriminated against our future selves.
Ashton Applewhite: Well, remember that anytime someone looks at you and goes like, “What’s that young person doing up there?” What could you possibly know about this? That that’s ageism too, right. And that ageism does … I mean, there’s no question that older people by far bear the brunt of it because we live in such a youth-obsessed society. There’s the dismissal of youth, the disrespecting of children, so you have experienced ageism. It’s not that you will, it’s that you already have.
Anika Kumar: Just a different form of it.
Ashton Applewhite: Also, this idea that your 20s are supposed to be like the peak time of your life. You’re figuring what you’re going to do. Your body has to be perfect. You have to have peak sex, peak social life, everything. If your life doesn’t happen to conform to that and P.S. your 20s are really hard. No one wants to go back to their 20s but that’s not the message in the culture. That message is one of the things that makes being in your 20s harder. That’s ageism. So to think about, I mean, do a consciousness-raising group of mixed ages obviously, and it could be just a workshop. It could be just an afternoon ideally where people around the table are not just different in age, but different in ethnicity, different in their family histories, different in their genders and talk about how we think about age and how the oppression affects us all differently but all of us. And how does this divide of age is really made up.
Cary Sweeney: Which draws home this idea of this …
Ashton Applewhite: Looming over that.
Cary Sweeney: Yeah, it’s like the Adams Family. Yes, exactly. It brings it to that longevity piece. I want to open it up to some of the questions the audience because they’re great. And so …
Ashton Applewhite: And you win also.
Cary Sweeney: Yeah, absolutely, I could be here all day. I think though, what I’ve learned with our age equity for all consciousness-raising initiative, which we need to come up with a fun acronym for is that we are more valuable by the perspectives in the room. So what I think is an important question about aging or ageism is not at all … We all have a different perspective.
Ashton Applewhite: Which is a blessing and a curse.
Cary Sweeney: Yeah, exactly. It keeps it interesting. So this question was near to my heart as the Director of the Retirement Center because we get this a lot when people retire and their in bliss and everyone’s excited and they said, “Well, what are you going to do when you retire?” And that’s the question here. How do you respond to that question? What we do when you retire? And it really shows that it’s a binary type perspective because it’s like you work and then you retire like there’s this …
Ashton Applewhite: Who did you use to be?
Cary Sweeney: Who did you use to be and who are you going to be? And we talk a lot about that sort of discovering yourself as you move out of full-time work into retirement. And so the question is very straightforward. How do you respond to that question? What will you do when you retire?
Ashton Applewhite: Well, there are as many answers as there are people. Each person’s … I mean, a question I get here people bratling about a lot is the assumption that if you are a certain age, 60 or whatever then you must … Are you retired?
Cary Sweeney: I answered a question just about that. At what age do you cut your [inaudible 00:46:56] membership off?
Ashton Applewhite: I mean, the fact is that retirement itself is a word whose meaning is completely shifting so fast. Laura Carstensen of the Stanford Longevity Center talks about adapting to longer lifespans with it taking longer for people to figure out what they want to do. So this is like you’re in your 20s, here where you might be home starting a family. You’re not at peak work yet. You might still be in school figuring out what you want to do. We stay in the workforce longer. And maybe peak in terms of hours and experience and all that in our 50s and 60s and then transition more slowly out of it. There’s no question that the idea that you hit 65 and boom, you’re not useful or valuable anymore needs to be challenged.
I mean, maybe you’re going to cure cancer, maybe you’re going to raise begonias. Every answer is a good one. I think it’s a prejudice of mind because I am so focused on work. I realized and I’m 66. So a lot of my age cohort, those who can afford it, are in fact retiring and it is a concept so alien to me personally that I have to watch my, like your what? Reflex because whatever you do if you want to sit in a porch swing and read romance novels more power to you. There is no right way to age. There is no decision that is more valid than another. There is the whole huge economic fact of course that so few people can afford to retire, and that so many older Americans are aging into poverty.
I mean, I don’t know if you’ve heard about the growing cohort of Americans my age. What do they call them? Nomads. There’s some terrifying worked for them. That drive in second-hand mobile homes, they’re not quite homeless from one low wage job to another. So as it from a political point of view, that’s a more oppressing question to me than are you going to raise begonias or raise roses but that snarky answer reflects my own bias.
Cary Sweeney: Yeah, thank you. And it varies. It’s very personal. We always say when you’ve seen … I’m sure there’s some bad language in this somewhere.
Ashton Applewhite: Don’t worry, I’m watching.
Cary Sweeney: When you’ve seen one retiree, you’ve seen one retiree. And the point is, is that we get more diverse as we age. And so it’s a very personal question and it takes some reflection. The challenge is sometimes I think people will not know how to answer the question. So what do you do? You guys talked about so …
Ashton Applewhite: Yeah, well, the connotations of the word are shifting and the fact is a lot of people are retiring, and they do have this incredible knowledge base. The head of the Mailman School of Public Health called it the only natural resource that’s actually increasing. The social capital of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of more healthy well-educated adults than ever before in human history. So we all need to come up with a million great answers to that question.
Cary Sweeney: Very well. Anika.
Anika Kumar: So this next question touches on how, in your talk, you mentioned that we consider old people to be ages 50 to however old, and that can count to so many different generations. It’s not a homogenous group. So do you have any stories about successful intergenerational communities where frail olders received care, and active olders of all ages live together?
Ashton Applewhite: Well, I would say a village, a literal village, where people of all ages live together and come into contact with each other every day then caregiving and socializing, and the work that needs to be done to keep the community going are all shared and the contribution and the needs of every person, whether they’re two or a 102 is evident. Marc Freedman, who started Oncore.org has a lovely book called, it’s a great title because you have to sort of do a double take, How To Live Forever, and it’s not about becoming immortal. It’s about leaving a legacy. You live forever if you leave a legacy to the next generation. And he has been working on intergenerational stuff forever and this is something that I’m so heartened by. I don’t really know where all the intergenerational initiatives are coming up all over.
He describes a bunch of them in there. There’s also an organization called Generations United. There’s a project that I started with two other people this summer called oldschool.info, which is a clearinghouse of free vetted anti ageism resources where you can find all this stuff. There are examples of intergenerational initiatives. So we need to make this up as we go. But there are lots of great examples out there to learn from.
Cary Sweeney: Yeah, absolutely. I’ll choose a question. They’re all so wonderful. Let’s see. The sense of personal … The sense of personal-
Ashton Applewhite: You couldn’t read it…
Cary Sweeney: Yeah. I’m starting to have to hold it farther away. So people with the most power aren’t motivated to join an anti-ageism movement because they are pretty happy. How to move them to action.
Ashton Applewhite: People with the most power are almost always the people with the most money, who can afford to buy the support that make them appear to be independent and aging successfully. They are not gonna be the ones to make change. But there are loads of business arguments to be made for why ageism hurts communities, hurts companies hurts humanity. There’s all this discourse now around Silicon Valley philanthropists who wanna do good by giving their money away in a private sort of way that makes them look good. There are a zillion arguments to be made about the economic cost of ageism. I mean, tons of industries are facing labor shortages, because boomers are retiring, so there’s that.
To tap into this knowledge base, it’s there … I mean I get tragic stories all the time about people in their 50s , usually it’s worse for women. It’s worse for people of color again it all compounds, but who have sent out hundreds of resumes and cannot get hired. I mean, this is a social justice issue, and because the canvas is so broad, a blessing and a curse, if gonna those people find out a social justice issue that they are interested in whether it’s the environment, there’s a very big group, I think it might be [inaudible 00:53:56] Berkeley based called Grays Green of olders working around conservation issues.
Whatever it happens to be, there is a way to tap into the social capital and experience of older people.
Cary Sweeney: Good feedback.
Anika Kumar: Yeah. Going off of that, this next question is specifically about how do we address the ageism sexism connection?
Ashton Applewhite: I think that we address that through consciousness raising the analogy that I often make, when ageism is missing from the discourse, and that’s really starting to change. It’s exciting. But you know, if you have this website on how to have a fabulous later life and there’s no ageism around health for example, or labor, you are just putting a bandaid on the situation. Suppose it was a website about women, and you never talked about sexism, and you never talked about feminism, and you never talked about structural issues, right? We women are gonna lead this movement. That’s no surprise. And there is a resource on my website and also on old school.
It’s called who me ageist, how it’s a free download, how to start a consciousness raising guide around age bias. I want a really smart feminists to write a version of it for women. The tough part is how do we incorporate race and gender into that, while keeping the focus on ageism. That’s a big project, but it’s the most interesting question there is. So it’s so interesting, right?
Cary Sweeney: Yeah.
Ashton Applewhite: I would like younger and older women to come together and talk about aging, because we don’t do that. And my working title is you will look like us, because I like the fact that it skewers the idea that the most important thing about us, is how we look, but everything is double edge. The problem with that title is that it implies that I old person, I’m gonna teach you how to be like me. And it’s really important to remember that these are two way transfers. But you know, if more younger women had older women friends, they would be less afraid right? And as I said, we older women who are threatened and pissy in the job market especially, would see that remember how … sisterhood.
Hello and we need a better term than sisterhood because sisterhood is mono generational. I got a great course correction. I was an AARP. I was an AARP in DC where this tour started 112 years ago. And they have a disrupt aging group, which is their sort of radical … Breaking news they are now as of last Thursday allowed to use the term ageism explicitly. That’s just what I did. I made exactly that face like WTF, like, “Really? It took this long?” But she said, and I was saying how one of the women compete, because we see that there is only two spots right at the table on the board.
So it’s you or me and I’m not gonna be nice to you, right? I’m gonna go for whatever edge I can. And I said, “We need to go for 50% of the seats.” And she said, “We need to go for 100%.” And I love that. You know, it’s like men have been taking all the seats for a really long time. I’m was starting to get blow back from a white man on Twitter, which I know is a really good sign, because no one gives up power without a struggle. I mean, me too. The Supreme Court appointed a guy with a credible sexual harassment record overtly hostile to women’s rights. No one gives up power without a struggle.
We women are gonna lead this, and we got to claim it. And the talk … I came up with this in the context of women’s rights. The women’s movement taught us to claim our power, and a movement against ageism is gonna teach us to hold onto it.
Cary Sweeney: I heard someone during the Me Too … use the term we too, as a way to sort of, make it I agree. I have to say that women have been the most responsive in terms of this event in our efforts.
Anika Kumar: Always.
Cary Sweeney: And, the comment on this idea that we’re all in it together-
Anika Kumar: We are.
Cary Sweeney: … right.
Ashton Applewhite: And just to point out also that, that ageism is the first form of discrimination that many white men encounter. And I think some of them are gonna become our most important allies. The ones who are willing to do this really unpleasant reckoning of, “Gee, I didn’t get everywhere I got on my brains and beauty.” But I think we absolutely need men in this movement. We need everyone. I don’t like we too, because I think it’s co opting Me Too. It’s such a big canvas that there’s always a way in figure out what part of this, where the rub is for you, and why?
Anika Kumar: That’s right.
Ashton Applewhite: And who you might wanna talk to about it. Even if all you do is, if you feel like it is thinking about how you use the words old and young. And I’ll say a really good all purpose answer to an ageist comment is just in a neutral tone. Why would you say that? Why would you call me young lady? Why are you calling me sweetie? We just met, although I met a woman who said, she says, “And how were you honey bunchkins?” The problem with snark tempting though it is, is that it puts the person on the defensive, and they’re like, “She’s just a cranky bitch.” And they don’t learn.
But I do have one good snappy answer. When someone says, you look great for your age, you look great for your age too. And then we’ll just let that awkward silence sit there. That’s the hard part.
Cary Sweeney: That is. I think it is a fine balance between being gracious and pushing back in a way because, you want to bring people along, not leave them feeling alienated or lost. I would find that when I speak with some people maybe, not generalizing, but maybe they’ve been there and done it for a long time. They’re in their eighties. They look at me like I’m not really getting … Maybe that particular person is operating on a set of principles that are ingrained and it sort of expectations and norms. And so how do we bring everybody along in a way so that we all see we are breaking down some framework that the people might’ve been operating in right?
Ashton Applewhite: Language is a really good place to start because it’s very literal. You can’t, older people are the most ageist of all, and if this person has made her way in the world, I have met older people who say, “I’ve never encountered ageism.” And that’s their reality. Or people who are just really firmly wedded to this idea that they’re looking great and doing fine, and someone offers them a seat on the bus, they recoil, because they hate the idea that they look old enough that they might want a seat on the bus, but that is based in self loathing. But self awareness comes, it’s hard to get there. You have to look first at your own bias and your own complicity. And if someone doesn’t wanna do that, it’s a huge ask and that’s there.
Cary Sweeney: That’s right. That’s personal.
Ashton Applewhite: That’s up to them. They’re not the people who are gonna change the world, but the world would be intolerable if everyone was an activist. [crosstalk 01:02:10]
Anika Kumar: As a follow up, a lot of this stems from internalized ages or internalized stereotypes that olders might have. What can we do to eradicate that in terms of educating people as they’re growing up and reshaping the way we think about aging from a young age, not just once we become old age?-
Ashton Applewhite: Great question. Aren’t you an education major did I make that up? We don’t. One of the reasons I made Old School, is to put curricula out there. To my knowledge, there is no curriculum, maybe it’s out there, and Old School is send it in. You can have your name on it. It links to you. It does need to be available for free download. I don’t think we have curricula for teaching very young kids about ageism and there are all sorts … We started this thing this year. Do you know that dress like a hundred year old day, right? We started a campaign to push back against that. It used to be to celebrate the hundredth day of school, and now kids dress up like million year olds, and then they come in, and they’re like fake wigs and walkers.
Which an awful part is, it is cute and you’re like, “Oh my God, what do I do with this?” But it’s deeply ageist. Instead, kids could dress like their grandparents dressed up, or think about a hundred … Someone came up with this really innovative thing of taking two Mason Jars and putting five pennies. I think they do it at first grade, was it five or six, and then a jar with 100 pennies. Bring in an old person and have them talk about what they did when they were kids. A lot of ways to make these really young people in training.
That is a challenge for educators. I’m not an educator, but there are as again there’s many ways into this. I mean it would be fantastic if that were a class, and people could submit their student projects and then we could put those ideas up on Old School.
Cary Sweeney: Yeah, that’d be great. Because the stereotype starts so young and then they just compound-
Anika Kumar: Disney cartoons.
Cary Sweeney: Yeah.
Anika Kumar: So many examples.
Cary Sweeney: Got a couple of great questions about the medical profession, which is two more that you’ve covered in your book and done a fantastic job this one I’m gonna ask both and you can address them. And a nice comment too as well. What is the role in the influence of medical professions? It’s aging of course you’re experiencing that you’re … look how old you are.
Ashton Applewhite: Oh, when you expect your age?
Cary Sweeney: Yeah. How do we interpret and internalize that? And then another one about, I’d like to know more-
Ashton Applewhite: Yeah, there’s a whole chapter on the book about the older body. The older brain medicine is deeply ageist. Again, more evidence that things are starting to change is the fact that med schools are now starting to introduce anti-age to their training and to their students. Nevertheless, most medical schools don’t force you to have a mandate, a geriatrics rotation. They do pediatrics but not the odd geriatricians. There’s gonna be a huge shortage of geriatricians even though, unless we can change this discourse and I think we can, geriatrician … of course doctors like to make money, and be respected and not have to wrangle with insurance, despite which year after year, the AMA does a survey that doctors who like their jobs the best are geriatricians.
So why can’t we put that idea out there? Promote that idea. People don’t go into geriatrics because they think it’s not gonna be enjoyable, because of the culture. How about some debt forgiveness for geriatricians? There are structural solutions to this stuff. We play a role in that the gag about, “My other knee doesn’t hurt.” Do we blame stuff on aging? That is not, if your doctor says what do you expect at your age? Find another doctor. We now understand that a lot of things that we thought were age related, have to do with psychological stuff and are absolutely treatable.
The trope that older people don’t sleep as much, tends to be because we have more aches and pains. Take an aspirin before bed, guess what? We sleep just as much as younger people that kind of thing. And we need more research into the basic biology of aging. I was on Kara Swisher’s radio show yesterday, and she talks a lot about tech and what she wanted to know was all about Longevity Science, and what I think of that. Aside from my philosophical issues with it, one problem with that is that it siphons medical resources away, what do you want? Like this click on the story about you’re gonna live forever, or click on the story about incremental advances in our understanding of cell senescence.
But what we need is incremental advances in our understanding of what happens to our body as we age. If we can slow aging, delay aging, absolutely. It’s self evident to say, “If we can be more active longer, we will be more productive.” Whether you love old people or hate old people you don’t want them to be sick and costs money. So there’s just a zillion ways into this from every political point of view. That was a really long answer to your question.
Cary Sweeney: No. We ask a question in our survey to afterwards, which Andy’s gonna talk about and I want Anika to close up with the last question of today and then is really where have you experienced this personally? Now that you’ve risen your awareness, you might even have new ideas around, where you’ve experienced this out in the community, in the doctor’s office in the grocery store, in church and where-
Anika Kumar: Between your own ears.
Cary Sweeney: Between your own ears, we’re our worst enemy, aren’t we? The book is so wonderfully chock full of practical pushback and also facts and evidence. And I will segue to Anika to close out to ask you a final question or some words of wisdom to pass along.
Anika Kumar: So you mentioned that you want your book to catalyze a mass movement against ageism and having read it, I think it really has the power to do that. So on that note, what are some big action items that we as individuals can take right now? What kinds of things do you wanna see?
Ashton Applewhite: You can have another question because I feel like I answered that.
Cary Sweeney: You did-
Ashton Applewhite: Like in a whole lot of ways. I mean there is at the last chapter of the book is called Occupy Age, and it does have a whole list of policy changes that need to happen. I don’t know. Here we are in Berkeley. My guess is that this was a really well educated crowd, with connections to people who are on the policy forefront in all sorts of different areas. The Elder Justice Act, elder abuse. It’s under prosecuted. I just did a op-ed for the spectator in the UK and saw a high 90% … I think it’s 99%, and there’s links to all this stuff on my website. If elder abuse cases are even brought 99% or dismissed?
What’s up with that? I think the public health campaign really has legs, just to raise awareness of ageism, but it does start between your own ears. Think about … because you can’t challenge bias unless you’re aware of it, and because most of us just haven’t started thinking about it. But once you get past that uncomfortable, “Oh crap, I’m really ageist.” You can’t get that genie back in the bottle. And it is really liberating to realize like, “Oh, this is out there in the culture, and we can do something about it.” And even if it’s just a shift in your own attitude. So when your friend says, “Everything about getting old sucks.” Say, “Would you wanna be any younger?”
No one does. No matter how scared they are, no one does. Well what’s up with that? Just start the conversation in whatever way feels right to you.
Cary Sweeney: That’s right. To segue onto that, there’s a great question about the double standard in media and entertainment. So how do you deal with … media is so present.
Ashton Applewhite: Started campaign like they’re doing in Colorado about, they’re calling it Visual Ageism. Take pictures of old people doing the things old people do, which is the same things everyone else does, so we can have a bigger library of images, instead of the damn couple walking on the damn beach.
Cary Sweeney: Thank you.
Ashton Applewhite: Right?
Cary Sweeney: We have to choose…
Ashton Applewhite: There’s a kick ass op-ed and what do they put with it? It’s all gray. No one has heads. If someone has a head down the line, you can see they have a white hair and they’re all wearing gray and they’re doing some stretch, and really we can do better. There’s a million things. Think of what you know about. In media often it’s the absence of older people. So call that out. If someone has a campaign that uses older models, buy their line of clothing. If your newspaper doesn’t do that, complain, make noise.
Cary Sweeney: Andy, we are gonna give Ashton thank you. Andy’s gonna a wrap us up. We really wanna think Ashton for joining today.
Andy Gaines: Thank you so much. Thank you so much Ashton, Carrie and Anika for the wonderful moderation. I just wanted to thank everyone for completing your survey. This is the beginning of our initiative, and your thoughts and responses will be really helpful in us figuring out what events we might be planning to come next, and we’ll stay informed.
Ashton Applewhite: I will learn from them too. I learned from you all the time. These are two way transactions.
Andy Gaines: Wonderful. We actually are gonna raffle off two books and apparently a couple of four Renegade Retirees shirts. When you go out the side don’t go yet, there will be a place for you to deposit it and you get a ticket and we’ll raffle them off and, will we do it later, or when will we?
Anika Kumar: You’ll have some time to look at the exhibit and share your reactions out here in the corner. Andy can tell you about that. Then-
Andy Gaines: We’ll do an announcement.
Anika Kumar: … we’ll come back in here and we’ll call them from in here.
Andy Gaines: Yeah. So just a couple things I wanted to let you know about. So this chair rocks, it’s for sale in the back, and we wanted to appreciate Mrs. Dalloway’s Books for kindly coming and providing us with the books for sale here. So please go get yourselves a book. Also, outside when you exit you’ll see a reframing aging exhibition. And that was a project by Nancy Rubin and Cynthia Bix here who are Ashby Village Volunteers and did a whole photo and story exhibition of some of our wonderful olders. And so take a look at that. I also wanna just thank Nancy because the reason why Ashton is here was Nancy discovered her a couple of years ago and kept an eye out, and she was the one who spotted that Ashton was coming out to California.
There’s also information tables in the back. UC Berkeley Retirement Center has one. Ashby Village has one. And I wanna make a slight correction. So you spoke about villages as being a place where people multi generational are supporting each other. Ashby Village is not a place, it’s where a community of people who are aging in their homes, and people younger adults who are wanting to help and support. So there’s a table in back with information there as well as a few other projects we’ve had, although they might be gone Age Friendly Berkeley, Berkeley Age Friendly Continuum and Berkeley Home Match, which has been done in a partnership with UC Berkeley Retirement and Ashby Village.
We are creating matches of graduate students with olders who might have a space in their home and be interested in home sharing. So please check that out. And finally, there will be a few students people on the side who have this wonderful new recording equipment, which will be asking for any reactions to today’s event any experience reflections. And so if you could take a moment, it would be really wonderful to capture that. So, finally I just wanna give a big thank you to Chris Thornton, who’s helped to produce this event, UC Berkeley Retirement, and the university for accommodating us. [crosstalk 01:15:41]
Thank you, Ashton for the inspiring words, and thanks for coming and enjoy this beautiful day. Yeah.