Watching TED Talks is a popular pastime at CN&CO. We visit TED.com regularly to clear our heads, have a laugh or get inspired. TED Talks open our minds, spark new ways of thinking and can lead to some very interesting conversations. Each week we pick a favourite and publish it on a Tuesday, because we like how “TED Talk Tuesday” sounds. This week’s talk was recommended by Cristiana Cavalieri. 

Ashton Applewhite speaks of the discrimination and stereotypes society ascribes and is taught to ascribe to the elderly.

It is true that I have always felt bad for the elderly. I have to ask myself why. Do I feel guilty that I am young? Do I feel bad because they are old? What does the word ‘old’ actually mean?

According to Applewhite, society has created ageism in order to ‘maintain the status quo’. Being old is no longer only limited to the passage of time but now incorporates all of the stereotypes associated with old age.

I know that I am guilty of assuming these stereotypes. My mind automatically jumps to words such as dementia and loneliness. How could we ascribe such a negative image to those who have lived beyond our years? 

Should we not rather feel privileged to be around such sources of wisdom and experience?

My Nonna is 98 years old. She has lived through World War 2 in which her husband Cesare (my Nonno) fought. Throughout the war she ran her father’s Insurance broker company in Italy until the return of my Nonno. Together they had two beautiful boys, sent them through school, watched them marry and have kids, have experienced grandchildren and very recently has Nonna’s first great-grandchild been born.

Nonna continues to live in the same home that she has resided in since 1958. She is, without bias, extremely beautiful and is still as sharp as a button. She is the ultimate proof that ageing is living.  

As Applewhite says, the experience of reaching old age largely depends on the culture in which it occurs. See her thoughts further on how longevity can continue to be the hallmark of human progress.