Reducing the Impact of Ageism on Victim Services

Racism, ableism, sexism and classism. Bias and 'isms' permeate our society. But what about ageism? Ageism is said to the last acceptable ism- however, it is also the only ism that could quite possibly affect anyone. Afterall, if you are living- you are aging. The billion dollar corporations share negative messaging around aging so that we will purchase all the 'anti-aging' products. The systematic and societal biases that surround aging are prolific and go unchecked. Consider 'over the hill' birthday cards and commercials that position aging as something to avoid or mock. The presenters will review the natural proclivity of having bias overall and particularly that around aging. We explore the subtleties of ageism and how it can affect how victim services are viewed by older adult victims. Through lecture, video, and interaction, participants will learn about their own biases and increase self-awareness about how to better serve others. Together, the group will explore ways to make services more inviting and welcoming for those who have been victimized later in life. The presenters will discuss how assumptions about dementia and individual abilities related to the realities of aging can affect the services that we provide. We conclude with a call to action, asking participants to be cognizant of ageism in our society and to challenge it as they feel comfortable. Together we can reframe ageism and help to support aging as the honor that it should be viewed as, aging is indeed a privilege.

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