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Infographic Dispels Myths About COVID-19’s Impact on Older Adults

By CEO James Appleby, BSPharm, MPH
June 29, 2020

Understanding Ageism and COVID-19” is the latest in a series of resources that GSA has prepared in response to the ongoing pandemic. It’s an infographic that can help us all, as aging advocates, counter the inaccurate narratives about older people in public discourse today.

As GSA’s COVID-19 Task Force began its work, its members quickly identified ageism, and the perpetuation of ageist myths, as a major concern as evidenced by the coverage of the pandemic in the media. The infographic highlights several false narratives about older adults in the pandemic and reframes them in the context of science.

We’ve known for many years, thanks to GSA’s work on the Reframing Aging Initiative, that ageism is pervasive in American society, and that it can have a major negative impact on older people’s lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation.

It’s true that people 65 and older are at greater risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. But the infographic dispels many myths and presents hard facts. For example, large numbers of people of all ages are getting COVID-19. Age is not the primary risk factor for COVID-19. Social isolation and loneliness are not exclusive to older adults, and older adults are capable of using technology to connect with family and friends.

Beyond sharing this infographic with your networks, I encourage everyone to keep in mind the principles of Reframing Aging when you are writing or speaking publicly. The initiative relies on tested strategies and evidence-informed tools that have been found to reduce implicit bias against older people. Seek ways to cue cultural models that highlight our collective responsibility rather than an “us versus them” scenario. Challenge the messages of fatalism with those that cue our values of ingenuity and innovation that lead to concrete solutions for us all.

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