Exploring Gaps in Understanding and Responding to Ageism: A Conceptual Model, Psychosocial Health, and Racialized Ageism
Date of Award
Julie Anne Laser
Ageism, Internalized, Intersectionality, Older adults, Social connectedness, Volunteering
Ageism is an insidious, prevalent social justice issue which has harmful effects on the health of older adults. This dissertation includes three manuscripts which explore gaps in understanding and responding to ageism through three distinct methodological approaches. Two primary gaps are addressed in the three manuscripts: 1) conceptualizing and testing activities or interventions to reduce internalized ageism and enhance psychosocial health for older adults, and 2) exploring the intersectionality of ageism with racism.
The first manuscript draws from stereotype embodiment theory and theories of successful and productive aging to detail a conceptual model of interventions which may reduce internalized ageism and enhance psychosocial health for older adults. Possible micro-level interventions include physical activity, volunteering, technology use, and stress management. Meso-level interventions may include education, intergenerational contact, and narrative reframing. At the macro-level, anti-ageism policies may serve as upstream, preventive factors to combat internalized ageism and promote enhanced psychosocial well-being for aging adults.
The second manuscript arose from a three-year, community-engaged research partnership with a local non-profit. This is a cross-sectional, quantitative study which tests whether internalized age stereotypes mediate the relationship between volunteering and social connectedness for adults 50+. Results (n = 165) demonstrate that increased internalized positive, not negative, age stereotypes partially mediate the relationship between volunteering and increased social connectedness. This study suggests that internalized positive age stereotypes may function as a form of esteem to enhance psychosocial health as people age.
The third, qualitative manuscript explores the lived experience of the intersectionality of ageism with racism from a phenomenological perspective through in-depth interviews with twenty racially diverse older adults in the U.S. Mountain West. Five coders applied constants comparison methods through a three-cycle coding process. Six umbrella themes and 17 sub-themes were identified. The findings indicate how ageism may be racialized through stereotypes such as mental incapability. Practitioners can apply the findings to enhance support for older adults experiencing both ageism and racism and increase collaboration across anti-ageism and anti-racism initiatives. Future research should focus on racialized ageist microaggressions and the impact of intersectional experiences of ageism and racism on specific health outcomes.
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Steward, Andrew T., "Exploring Gaps in Understanding and Responding to Ageism: A Conceptual Model, Psychosocial Health, and Racialized Ageism" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2083.
Received from ProQuest
Andrew T. Steward
Social work, Gerontology, Aging