Social Work and Human Services Paper on Ageism in Modern American Society

Ageism in Modern American Society         

Ageism is the stereotyping, discrimination, and prejudice against other people based on their chronological age (North & Fiske, 2012). In pre-modern times, older people enjoyed a position of power and status in society. In modern American society, however, ageism has become an enormous challenge, especially for the elderly. Older people get discriminated in healthcare systems, biased in social services, and overlooked for employment. In workplaces, for instance, they are viewed as slow in adapting to change, unproductive, and stubborn. They are also considered prone to disability and regular illnesses.

An Example of Intra-Group (Within-Group) Ageism

An example of intragroup ageism is when a person discriminates against the other, though within the same group because they feel that one person is less skilled. For instance, in a football team, one player may feel the other is less capable of scoring because if his age advancement, thus portraying reluctance in playing together.

An Example of Inter-Group (Between Groups) Ageism

An excellent example of inter-group ageism is when a human resource manager declines to consider a job application from an older person just because they have a negative view of the elderly. For instance, a 30-year-old professional may feel that a 65-year-old engineer will not be productive and may be prone to injuries.

The Connection between Ageism and Unsuccessful Aging

Studies have suggested successful aging as a powerful way of dealing with the problem of ageism in society. Typically, successful aging is the ability to adapt to both functional and physiological changes associated with age advancement. People are, therefore, considered to age successfully if they retain good health and possess high levels of physical and mental functioning (North & Fiske, 2012). Ageism is primarily drawn from the inability to cope, both physically and psychologically, to changing environments and lifestyles, especially when one progresses in age. However, if the elderly are seen to be active, able to adapt to new lifestyles, and retain good health, there would be no reasons to discriminate against them.

Ways of Shaping and Individual’s Self-Perception 

Self-perception is the conception of how an individual views his or her abilities, unique characteristics, or behaviors. Self-esteem is a significant component of self-conception. Many factors shape how individuals view themselves. Key among these factors is social and family influences (Drury, Hutchison, & Abrams, 2016). People’s feedback can either build or destroy one’s self-esteem. The media also plays a vital role in shaping self-perception. For instance, movies, magazines, and social platforms significantly influence how people view themselves, relative to society.

How May Self-Perception and Comparison In Late-Life Influence Addiction

Studies have linked low self-esteem and comparison in late life to substance abuse and addiction. Strong evidence indicates that alcohol enhances the feeling of accomplishment and competence (North & Fiske, 2012). Under the influence of drugs such as alcohol and marijuana, many people tend to overestimate their abilities. People feeling self-unworthy may indulge in substance abuse as a way of trying to boost their confidence. When such behavior is repeated, it may lead to addiction.

Is Spirituality A Component Of Bio-Psychosocial Wellness?

The bio-psychosocial model examines the interrelation between disciplines and how they play a role in promoting human health and wellness. Typically, wellness is an interaction between biological, physiological, and social-environmental factors (Drury, Hutchison, & Abrams, 2016). These factors can affect human health and development positively or negatively. Spiritually is a component of Bio-psychosocial wellness. To many people, spiritual life is a significant component of their social life; thus, its integration in the model.

What If Your Addicted Client/Patient Or Family Member Disagrees?

Often, clients or even family members may be unwilling to adhere to addiction treatment programs. If such happens, the first step would be to educate them on the adverse effects of their decision on their health, their loved ones, and the society in general. Secondly, I would also try to create a personal relationship with them. This would create a sense of belonging and a common agenda. If all these fail, I would consider inviting a different physician to talk with them.




Drury, L., Hutchison, P., & Abrams, D. (2016). Direct and extended intergenerational contact and young people’s attitudes towards older adults. British Journal of Social Psychology55(3), 522-543.

North, M. S., & Fiske, S. T. (2012). An inconvenienced youth? Ageism and its potential intergenerational roots. Psychological bulletin138(5), 982.