Perceptions of Aging

Essay by johnfraseA, February 2004

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In our society, aging is portrayed in a negative way. Nobody wants to get older. There is a definite stigma associated getting older. Getting older is associated with death while being young is associated with life. This can be observed in the phrase "Over the Hill". If one is "Over the Hill", the metaphor indicates that their life is one a downward slope towards death. Many of the birthday cards I observed portrayed aging in this same light. The negative connotations that go along with aging can be observed in most birthday cards for people 30 years and older. One card that I observed stated on the outside, "It's not over till its over" and on the inside read "It's over! Happy 30th Birthday". This card illustrates how people associates aging with death.

When one becomes 30 years old it is safe to argue that they receive a new status in society.

While being 29 years is considered to be young, 30 years is considered old. Due to this, one's status suddenly switches from "young" to "old". As people continue to age, the older they get the more likely that their status of "old" will become their Master status. A persons who's Master status has been a "successful businessman" may suddenly change to "old" when they retire due to the fact that our society views retirees as "old". Multiple jeopardy can occur when one's status of age is less desirable than their other statuses. For example the status of being a woman is often seen as less desirable than being a man, but when a woman's age becomes another ascribed status such as "old" multiple jeopardy occurs.

In light of this new perceived status, a 30 year old must adapt to a new role set in line with the...