Giving Compass' Take:

• As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, here are strategies to combat ageism and protect the elderly, a vulnerable population during this time. 

• What is the role of donors to advocate for and protect elderly populations?

• Read how you can help isolated older adults during COVID-19. 

Today, the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing Americans’ cultural bias against older people to new heights. We’ve seen leaders suggest that grandparents are expendable in the name of economy. The hashtag #BoomerRemover emerged and started trending in mid-March as a way to mark and make light of ageist comments about the pandemic. And Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, had to repeatedly address public opinion that COVID-19 was not a serious concern because of initial public beliefs that it affected only older people.

The current discourse also frames older people as a monolithic group, failing to acknowledge their demographic, health, and functional diversity. While we’ve heard personal accounts of younger people who have fallen ill and stories about those who have lost employment, the media’s coverage of older adults has tended to use very different framing. The coverage often presents depersonalized statistics without stories or images of actual people. Stories about older people have featured the blank façade of a nursing home, and faceless body bags being taken out of hospitals and care facilities. These portraits dehumanize older adults and add oxygen to society’s tendency to exclude them from our communities, social policies, and systems of support.

We believe the following strategies can help advocates across all sectors stem the tide of ageism in the COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 contexts.

  1. Appeal to the value of justice.
  2. Define ageism and show people how to address it.
  3. Create a sense of solidarity.

Read the full article about fighting ageism during COVID-19 by Nat Kendall-Taylor, Aly Neumann, & Julie Schoen at Stanford Social Innovation Review.