One study suggests that gerontophobia exists in this country, a fear and loathing of older people. Because of this our perceptions of aging and the elderly are ones that are learned and reinforce stereotypes and other forms of discrimination against elderly individuals in the U.S.:
The ageism hook is reasonably novel and intuitively appealing. Anyone who has taught the social construction of aging understands the power of ageist assumptions-assumptions that tells us that all old people are useless, wrinkled, forgetful, unproductive members of society (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary). These assumptions profoundly affect the day-t-day reality of being an older person in this country. But ageism also allows us to better understand systems of inequality in our society. Age-like race, class, gender, and the like-is a socially constructed dimensions along which privileges and disadvantages are institutionalized. Furthermore, age articulates with each of these dimensions to determine people’s access to goods and services.
One interesting aspect of the aging process is that negative perceptions and stereotypes also affect the elderly and may even decrease their ability to perform everyday tasks. One example of this is with memory. When people are continually told their memory will decline as they age, it