Wednesday, 20 December 2017 06:27

Aging and Media Stereotypes

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Aging is a natural occurrence hence it is inevitable. However, the elderly are often stereotyped in the media. Advertisements, movies, documentaries and imagery presentation in books and magazines present the old adult, in a specified way. Ageism also exists in the media, in relation to the representation of the elderly. Ageism refers to discrimination against the aged person. The media have a tendency to present the elderly as weak, immobile and always in need of assistance, additionally, and the media present the elderly as individuals with different diseases thus perceived with poor health. In a positive note, however, the elderly are perceived as reliable thus can look after their grandchildren when the need arises.


The perspective of aging has been predominantly negative in television and films. Televisions and film producers have traditionally had the preference of portraying the old as weak and dependent on their relatives. In most instances, the elderly are presented in a nursing facility. At the nursing facility, the elderly are presented as individuals who require round-the-clock care. In most instances, the elderly are also presented to be struggling with old-age diseases such as incontinence, memory lapse and Alzheimer’s. In the frontline series Living Old (, the burden that the children of elderly parents undergo is imminent. The film illustrates how children are overwhelmed by their aging parents to the extent that they sign them a nursing home. The film also demonstrates that old age diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are inevitable (Frontline, 2014). Overall, the elderly become a burden as they become dependent on their children for their survival. The elderly are as disruptive as children have to choose to alter their lifestyles and fit their aging parents or transfer their old parents to a nursing home. Other films such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are with cinematic clichés about old people e.g. the elderly are lonely, idle, obnoxious and mostly, in poor health. However, the best exotic marigold hotel also addresses the issue of ageism and demonstrates that the elderly can still enjoy their lives. Additionally, obnoxious people can also change despite their age.

Print media also carry advertisements and captions that are in humor, but fuel ageism.


The image illustrates an old man who appears to be experiencing body aches. The old man also appears unimpressed by the fact that he is old. The caption appears to capture the old man’s thoughts indicating the inexistence of any positives, in relation to old age. The caption further indicates that growing old should be banned. The existence of such images and caption promotes negative stereotyping towards the elderly. However, some print images portray the elderly as persons who are happy and content with their lives.


The image above represents an elderly couple who appear happy, content and still living in marital bliss. The positive representation is worth admiring especially in a society where young couples divorce, in the shortest time, after marriage.

Newspapers also form a platform that affects the society’s perception of the aging and the elderly in society. When the newspapers emphasize on the problems that the elderly face e.g. diseases, lacks finances and also present the elderly as slow, helpless and forgetful, the society tends to build their perception of the elderly based on the media representations (Cox, 2012). Print media also remain at the fore-front on information related to anti-aging products. The newspapers are among the first to announce the emergence of new anti-aging products thus encouraging the public to use the products and eliminate any signs of aging. Newspapers need not focus on the problems associated with aging. The newspapers can also write articles that encourage individuals to embrace aging. Ageist attitudes have a negative effect on the public, as well as the old people. The negative representation of the elderly can affect the overall view of the old. The old can also be affected, in relation to accepting their aging status. Media channels such as newspapers, advertisements and film must strive to capture the positive aspects of aging. Aging comes with wisdom as the aging individual has amassed a lot of experienced, in his lifetime. The elderly can thus become a formidable force that can advise and help the young generations shape their future. The health problems that affect people as they age are unavoidable. The media can address the challenges that the elderly face and provide efficient solutions (Hillier, & Barrow, 2014). The media can provide information on the management of osteoporosis through a healthy diet and moderate exercise.


The current presentation of the elderly is exaggerated and far from the truth. Not all elderly persons are weak, helpless, lonely and diseases. There are many elderly persons who remain vibrant and strong throughout their lives. Illnesses may be inevitable, but manageable. The elderly are a source of guidance and counsel for the young generation. The elderly can be dependable and useful members of society.


Hillier, S. & Barrow, G. (2014). Aging, the individual and society. Cengage learning

Cox, D. (2012). Why do films do such a bad job of portraying old people? The Guardian

Frontline, (2014). Living Old. Frontline PBS

Janet Peter is the Managing Director of MeldaResearch.Com a globally competitive custom writing service which is the premiere provider of Essay Writing Services, Research Paper Writing Services at Term Paper Writing Services at very affordable cost. For 9 years, she has helped a number of students in different academic subjects.

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