Stereotypesagainst Older Adults in the Media
Stereotypesagainst Older Adults in the Media
Similarto other social characteristics (such as race and sex), old age isfed by stereotype in nearly all types of media. Most of the programsand articles posted in the media portray the older adults as sickly,cranky, senile, childlike, or unattractive (Walker, 2010). The use ofthe media to propagate certain ideas about the old age impacts thesociety in a significant way. This is because the media has thecapacity to manipulate the views held by the society and giveinformation, both accurate and inaccurate. In most cases, mediaprograms and articles focus on the youths while the few programs thataddress issues of older adults fail to give their correctrepresentation. The stereotyping information that people receive fromthe media may be used to categorize various societal roles. Thispaper will focus on three types of media (newspaper, magazine, andadvertisements) that stereotype against the older adults.
Thenewspaper is one type of media that reaches a large number of people,which means that its content can shape the thinking patters of alarge proportion of the society. In most cases, newspapers publisharticles that focus on issues affecting the youths or the generalpopulation with little attention being given to the elderly. However,the few articles published about older adults mainly focus on thedeterioration of their health and how their poor health is a burdento the taxpayer. For example, one of the articles published in theNew York Times on December 27, 2013, focused on need for Medicare toincrease funds to cover the escalating cost of mental health (Graham,2013). Although the title of the article addressed the subject ofmental health in a general way, they author diverted the scope of thearticle to show that older adults are at a higher risk of sufferingfrom mental illness. The author introduced the article by stating“For decades, older adults with depression, anxiety, and …….”(Graham, 2013). This depicts the elderly as people who are affectedby mental illness than the rest of the age groups and inflate thenational budget on health care, but the reality is that mentalillness affects people in all age groups. Although it is correct thatolder adults suffer from mental illness, portraying them as the onlymembers of the society who are at high risk is a misrepresentation ofthe truth.
Themagazine is one of the print media that has a wide readership and thepower to influence perceptions of the readers. Similar to other typesof media, magazines are more geared towards the issues of youths andneglect older adults. The few articles that feature in magazinesdepict the older adults in a negative way. For example, magazineshave managed to popularize the idea that low libido and sexualunattractive are common among older adults. In one of the articlespublished in the Menopause Matters Magazine, the older adults areportrayed as people who suffer more from hormonal imbalance andsexual incompetence compared to other age groups (Menopause MattersMagazine, 2013). The article propagates the idea that the elderly aremore predisposed to low sex drive compared to the general population.Although the article gives advice on how to manage sexuality, low sexdrive can be a psychological or medical issue that can affect peoplein any age group. This means that addressing the older adults as themain audience labels them as sexually unattractive and incompetent,which is incorrect.
Advertisementsare specially designed to increase their capacity to convince thetarget audience to believe in some idea or decide purchase a givencommodity. This implies that the propagation of a given idea throughadvertisements can induce the society to believe in wrongrepresentation of certain groups in the society. Currently,advertisements for cosmetics that can be used to remove wrinkles andaging are commonplace. Although people can get wrinkles at any age,it is not surprising to find that most advertisements convey themessage removal of wrinkles makes one look and feel younger. Theseadvertisements associate wrinkles with old age and fails to considerother age groups. For example, an advertisement of Syla, which is awrinkles removing lotion, closely associates wrinkles with aging. Theadvertiser states “These wrinkles makes us older, tired, and lessvibrant” (Owoc, 2014). This portrays the older adults as peoplewith unattractive skin, weak, and less active. Although the mainobjective of the advertiser is to attract the audience to theproduct, relating the old age and wrinkle is a way of stereotypingagainst the senior members of the society.
Inconclusion, stereotyping against the older adults in newspapers,magazine, and advertisements is common practice. In all the threetypes of media, issues affecting the younger generation areprioritized while a few programs and articles propagate negativeideas about older adults. The newspapers portray the older adults assickly people who are contributing towards the increase in the costof health. Magazines portray the older adults as a group of peoplewho are mostly affected by low sex drive. Most of the advertisementsportray the older adults weak, tired, and less active.
Graham,J. (2013, December 27). Medicare to cover more mental health costs.TheNew York Times.Retrieved May 29, 2014, fromhttp://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/medicare-to-cover-more-mental-health-costs
MenopauseMatters Magazine (2013, January 24). Menopause and Libido. MenopauseMatters Magazine.Retrieved May 29, 2014, fromhttp://www.menopausematters.co.uk/article-how-to-boost-your-sex-drive.php
Owoc,E. (2014). Sleep your lines away. AgelessResearch Lass.Retrieved May 29, 2014,http://www.thesyla.com/index.php?gclid=CKTKqoq30L4CFSjItAod6ywAnw
Walker,J. (2010, October 30). Elder stereotypes in media and popularculture. AgingWatching.Retrieved May 29, 2014, from http://www.agingwatch.com/?p=439