Ashton Applewhite's keynote speech at the 2016 International Conference on Positive Aging in Washington D.C.
Why does the fact that people are happiest at the beginnings and the ends of their lives take so many people by surprise? Why do only 3% of American social work students concentrate in gerontology, and only 1% of medical school students choose geriatrics—even though geriatricians, over and over, report the highest job satisfaction? The reason is ageism—discrimination and stereotyping on the basis of age— the last socially sanctioned prejudice.
Ageism is emerging as a pressing human rights and social justice issue, and Ashton has become a leading spokesperson for a movement to mobilize against it. As an author and activist, Ashton Applewhite has been recognized by the New York Times, National Public Radio, and the American Society on Aging as an expert on ageism. She is the author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. Ashton’s work is a call to wake up to the ageism in and around us, embrace a more accurate and positive view of growing older, and push back against the forces that frame it as decline.
“All practitioners working with older adults need to be informed about the pernicious influences of ageism. Nobody does this better than Ashton Applewhite. Her thinking is deep, her passion infectious, and her cogent message is spot on: we urgently need to have a national conversation about ageism to raise awareness about it and to stop it.”