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'Owning' Your Age

What can older adults do to address ageist attitudes and practices

While much has been written about ageism – what it looks like, sounds like and feels like  –  it seems to me that there has been less emphasis on what older adults themselves can do to address ageist attitudes and practices. One response may simply be ‘owning’ your age.

I think 95 is a great age to start a new job! says Hazel McCallion

Too often, older persons are reluctant to disclose their age for fear of being discounted or, in the case of the work place, discriminated against in both overt and covert ways. They may believe that, if employment recruiters know their age, that will take precedence over credentials and experience.  Workplace age discrimination is very real. In other areas of their lives, they may think that, if their ‘real’ age is known, they won’t be valued or taken as seriously. The result is that many older persons hide behind a veil of secrecy when it comes to their age.
To me, this just perpetuates ageism. What would happen if older adults, in refusing to be defined by age, spoke up with pride about their age in unapologetic ways? Do you think that, over time, society would begin to value them for who they are and not view them through a lens of preconceived notions about what people of a certain age can and should do?
Hazel McCallion does not let age define her. As the former Mayor of Mississauga said when she was installed as the Chancellor of Sheridan College in 2016, "I think 95 is a great age to start a new job!”
For more information on Ageism read the Revera Report on Ageism or visit

About the Author

Pat Spadafora
Pat Spadafora is the founder and Director of the Sheridan Centre for Elder Research at Sheridan College. Ms. Spadafora's research interests include global population aging, aging in place, accessible technology, civic engagement in retirement, and the impact of the creative and performing arts on health. For more information about the Sheridan Centre for Elder Research, please visit:

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