Wednesday, March 23, 2005


“Society’s stereotypes of the elderly as people who are unhealthy, ingrown, inactive, out-of-date in their ideas, rigid and vulnerable to ‘senility,’ often have the effect of self-fulfilling prophecies. When these stereotypes influence public policies or the policies within institutions for the elderly, they produce serious injustices.

“Some observers use the word ‘ageism’ to indicate parallels with ‘sexism’ and ‘racism.’ There is, however, a difference: anyone who lives long enough, regardless of sex or race or any other social differentiation, will be vulnerable to this type of discrimination.

“. . . we can make best make moral sense of society’s responsibility for the elderly by thinking of it as a matter of justice. Should we not think of justice as including provisions for the well-being of humanity at every stage of the life cycle? The test of the justice of institutions and policies should be their effect on all persons.” William M. Clements (Ministry with the Aging: Designs, Challenges, Foundations; The Haworth Press, 1989, pp.137-138)