As the NC Senior Tar Heel Legislature delegate and alternate for Chatham County, we stand in support of Ageism Awareness Day observed Saturday, October 7, 2023.
Ageism refers to stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) toward others or oneself based upon age. It is pervasive in every domain of American society. Ageism harms everyone, but it particularly harms our economy. AARP estimated $850 billion in lost gains to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a result of involuntary retirement, underemployment, and unemployment among older workers. In a 2005 article in the “Journal of Social Issues” Todd Nelson said, “Ageism is prejudice against our future self.”
Adults aged 60+ comprise 23% of NC’s population, yet our state’s appropriations for funding for services that enable us to age with choice, at home, are less than 1% of the state budget each year. None of us want to think we could be guilty of ageism. This year, the NC Senior Tar Heel Legislature recommended to the NC General Assembly the appropriation of $18.75M in additional recurring funds to address critical issues facing older adults. The five recommendations of the NCSTHL were aimed to ensure that “seasoned citizens” have access to resources that enhance their lives and health outcomes across programs such as Adult Protective Services, senior centers, the state block grant supporting services such as home-delivered meals, and long-term care improvements. The NC General Assembly did not respond to the NCSTHL’s recommendations to support the needs of the growing older adult population.
It is quite concerning that issues for North Carolina’s aging population seem to have such a low priority. On Ageism Awareness Day, Oct. 7, let’s take a moment to consider how we treat older adults and how we want to be treated as we age. Let’s support the NC Senior Tar Heel Legislature and its efforts to ensure that North Carolina is not only a great place to grow up, but a great place to grow old.
Robin Leto and David Marty live in the Pittsboro area and we appointed by Chatham County Aging Services. The N.C. Senior Tar Heel Legislature was created as a nonpartisan, unicameral body by the N.C. General Assembly in 1993 with the purpose of identifying the most pressing issues facing older adults across the state and propose legislation that will improve their quality of life.