‘Silver fox’ study in aged-care homes. This banner headline on page three of the local newspaper, The West Australian, demanded my attention. Articles about aged care always interest me. This one intrigued and then distressed me.
I wrote a post about it, pointing out the disrespect of calling any older man who showed interest in a woman, a ‘Silver fox’ – a predator. And the opposite, an older woman in the same situation referred to as a ‘cougar.’ Such derogatory terms!
The journalist reported that the study would involve asking carers in aged care facilities about the sexual behaviour of residents. This also appalled me. As if none of the residents in aged care could speak for themselves. They need to be spoken about, like objects rather than subjects, of their own lives?
Regular readers of my blog understood. They got what I wrote, and why. They were appalled and outraged at the ageism of the article and the study itself.
Here’s a link to my blog post if you’d like to check it out. https://maureenhelen.com/sex-in-aged-care-facilities-study/
Calling out ageism
I’m committed to calling out ageism wherever I see it. And I must say, it feels like almost everywhere I look.
Once, ‘call out’ meant literally to call out someone like a plumber or an electrician to fix something faulty. They charge what they named a ‘call-out’ fee, on top of their regular charges. The Urban Dictionary defines ‘call out’ as
It isn’t just me, by the way. Helen Garner wrote a fabulous article about ageism in her book, Everywhere I Look. Other people blog and tweet under the hashtag #AgePride and similar hashtags.
Joyce Williams MBE blogs under the banner of Grandma Williams. She’s a retired physiotherapist and her articles about age and ageing are both funny and thought-provoking. Here’s a link to her post about Age Pride and why we should all become involved
Back to the ‘Silver fox’ article
Writing a blog didn’t seem enough action to express my outrage over the ‘Silver fox’ story in the newspaper. I wrote emails to the institutions implicated in the article. They should be very concerned not only how, by why, their workers label and stereotype older people. My emails were respectful, reasoned and gentle.
The email to the chief of staff at the newspaper elicited a prompt reply. Within two hours someone in his office responded that
The article simply reports on a proposed study…
The issues of privacy and lack of respect are, I think, issues for the study, not for the article itself.
We haven’t breached anyone’s privacy nor been disrespectful.
She obviously didn’t work out that calling someone a ‘silver fox’ is disrespectful.
I’m still waiting for a response to my email to Advocare Inc, the organisation responsible for advocating on behalf of people receiving aged care services in Western Australia. I hope they take up the challenge to exercise their systemic advocacy skills on behalf of all residents.
Edith Cowan University’s response also came quickly. My complaint has been registered and referred to the relevant supervisor. I can expect a response within 45 working days. Seems like a long time to wait but this issue won’t go away.