The American Society of Gerontology wants to change the perception that the world has of the third age and that it is understood that to fulfill a certain number of years is simply another stage of life, but dreams and objectives continue to be had.

In Spanish there is a saying that says: how you look I saw myself and how you see me you will see, a message that invites a reflection to the younger generations not to forget that the elderly are themselves, but in the not too distant future, That is why the American Society of Gerontology (GSA, for its acronym in English) seeks to change the perception of old age and not forget that they are also active and, like everyone, have dreams and illusions.

That is why at the GSA conference, which was held in Austin, Texas, from November 13 to 17 of this year, one of its topics covered was, Rethinking Old Age.

"The goal is to confront the challenges of old age and discrimination, which we know is widespread and is done subconsciously," said Laurie Gibson, in charge of the GSA professional affairs program. "In this society, older adults are treated with inequality."

Gibson added that the objective of the workshop was to expose the importance of changing the way we think and understand aging to reduce discrimination against older adults and increase inclusion and opportunities for people of any age.

One of the examples he used was the discrimination that in many occasions the elderly suffer from not being able to be hired in certain jobs because it is thought that because they are old they will not have the same performance and they are marginalized.

"What we want is for people to see people for who they are and not put them in stereotypes," Gibson said.

In 1970 Americans expected to live around 70 years, but currently that average increased to 78 and is expected to continue increasing.

In addition, and according to GSA information, until 2018 in the United States the population of the elderly or over 65 years was 15 percent, equivalent to 49 million Americans, but it is expected that, in 2060, that percentage multiply to 24 percent or 95 million people.

These changes are not only due to the increase in population, but more and more people live longer, which is why since 2014, eight organizations specializing in the elderly formed the group Organization of Leaders of Old Age (LAO, for its acronym in English); The goal is to create a better understanding of the public about the needs and contributions to society of older adults and, therefore, improve the health and care of all Americans as we "age."

Gibson emphasizes that currently the word aging has a negative stigma for all people and it is spoken as if only the elderly are the only ones who get sick and struggle with their health, when in reality they are people like any other.

"It is said that older adults are more fragile, more dependent, go to the doctor more often and take many medicines," he added. "It is thought that the elderly are very lucky because they are already retired, they do not have to work and can play golf all day and go to cruises."

Gibson emphasizes that all these ideas about older adults are stereotypes since there is a large population over 65 who still have to work because they do not have enough income, and many of them remain very active, and like the rest of the Population have dreams and goals, regardless of age.

"We are all getting older and at one point we will all benefit from the changes that are made today," he said. "We are all part of a family and a community, if we discriminate against the elderly, we will be discriminating against ourselves because someday most people will be in that place."

Nancy Morrow-Howell, director of the Harvey A. Friedman Aging Center at the Institute of Public Health at the University of Washington in St. Louis, said one of the challenges is with the media since the way of referring in most the cases to the population of the third age, it is as if it were another population and another group different from that of the population in general.

“We want the media to present the stories where they speak in an inclusive way and use the‘ we ’and not the‘ they ’; besides not presenting it in a fatalistic way where it is thought that there is not much to do because they are of the third age ”.

They celebrate the Annual Scientific Conference of GSA 2019

The Rethinking Old Age conference was held within the framework of the annual scientific conference of the American Society of Gerontology (GSA) that lasted five days in Austin, Texas and where more than 4000 individuals interested in the health of the elderly participated; The objective was to know the advances and the latest in the health of the elderly, in addition to building strategic partnerships to face the challenges of aging that occur each year.


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