Ageism, discriminatory practices based on someone’s age, is the only example I can think of where prejudice flows both ways. Assumptions are often made of people over a certain age in regards to politics or computer literacy, and some find it harder to find new jobs as they draw closer to retirement. Equally, young people are expected to be technical wizards, and are often deemed soft and weak for being more politically sensitive than past generations. Ageism is also heavily linked with ableism.
Statistically speaking, the health and mobility of a population will decrease as they age beyond early adulthood. Bone density and muscle mass decline while fat mass increases, even among athletes. Tendons and ligaments will start to show the wear and tear of decades of use. Mathematically, the longer you live the more likely you are to have been injured or ill, because you’ve had more time in which to get there.
Unfortunately, people are not statistics. We are individuals. Statistics does it’s best to eliminate the effects of abnormalities to obtain the most accurate results, and is essential for medical research. However, should you just so happen to be one such anomaly, it can feel like your experience is being erased.
There are older people who are fit and healthy, and who probably get frustrated at everyone constantly trying to do things on their behalf when they want their independence. Hell, Mae Young was power-bombed through a table on multiple occasions, at over eighty years old (we stan a legend).
There are also people at the other end of scale like me, 24 years young, who can do the ABC’s of diseases they’ve had, and who have never been power-bombed through a table. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told I’m too young to be sick; my cells would beg to differ on that point. I’ve also just been told that I’m too young to be vaccinated against COVID, and too young to receive a hysterectomy, despite there being medical justification for both. Statistics says that I, the chronically ill young adult, don’t exist, therefore I’m not worth dealing with.
Whenever something is marketed towards disabled people, there are two kinds of people shown on the pamphlets. The most common is the elderly individual. Rarer but still somewhat prevalent is the young child, disabled at birth, usually inserted for pity points. Apparently, disabilities simply disappear between the ages of 5 and 70, and also don’t occur in anyone who isn’t white.
As we age and get increasingly sensitive about the distance between our date of birth and the current date, people are fond of saying that age is just a number. If that is truly the case, however, then it should have no bearing on disability. It should be like Ant and Dec; while it’s unusual to see one without the other, it’s certainly not unheard of.
When all is said and done, if age really is just a number then you must decide; learn to understand the importance of the anomaly, or tell your mum she really is that old.