THE ELDERLY AND
Last 20th and 21st April, we had in Alicante the Meetings of study and research
concerning “Social challenges in the
21st century: The Elderly and the Media”. With the collaboration of JUBICAM
and within the framework of the Observatory of the Elderly and Media of
the Permanent University of
Alicante, the activities and reunions were held in the Auditorium of the
CAM in Isabel La Católica. This entity
sponsored the event under the auspices of the program “Older People, Active
People” from their Social Work Department.
The goal was to analyse, with precision, the treatment that the media
give to the information relating to the elderly, and consequently promote the
elimination of image stereotypes that exist about this collective group.
Along with the researchers of the mentioned
“Observatory” of the University of Alicante, specialists from other
Universities, such as professionals and experts in the different media,
presented lectures, communications and “panels”. They also took part in
round-tables and discussions with morning and evening sessions, arriving to a
series of scientific conclusions (what we transcribe in the following documents)
about the social reality that affects the older people and their reflection in
The opening session was presided by Roberto
López, General Director of CAM; Josefina Bueno, Vice-Chancellor of the
University of Alicante; José Barberá, President of JUBICAM; Francisco Bernabeu,
Founder and first President of the Group of European Retired Staff of Saving
Banks; Concepción Bru, Director of the Permanent University of Alicante; and
Enrique Romá, representing the Social Work of the Savings Bank. In the opening
session, an email was read, sent from Santander, where the Euromeeting 2009 was being
held, written by the President of the European Group, José Roberto López, with
the unanimous agreement from the Board of Directors itself, to transmit our
congratulations for the importance of the event.
Some of the professionals and researchers
who took part in the programs were: Fernando González, journalist and writer;
Juan R Gil, editor of the daily paper Información; José Soto, director of the
daily paper Las Provincias; Ezequial Moltó, editor of El País; Benjamin Lorena,
director of Radio Alicante; Matilde Pelegrí, editor of the magazine Senda; Loles Díaz Aledo, journalist and
ex-director of the “Club of Life” from RNE; José Mª Perea, editor of the daily
paper Información; Tomás Escribá, representing JUBICAM; Antonio Gil, editor of
the magazine Panorama Mediterráneo CAM; Fernando Embid, from the UPUA
Observatory; Irene Ramos, researcher and sociologist; Antonio Arió,
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Valencia; Lorenzo Andreu, person in charge
of the CAMON Platform; and Mª Luisa Mataix, Felipe Castejón, Carlos Alberto
Fernandez, Isidoro Lozano, and Mª Carmen Molina, researchers and students of the
Observatory of the Elderly and Media of the UPUA.
In the closing session, they considered the
proposal for the future editions of these meetings, every year, to evaluate the
development and evolution of the results obtained.
The elderly have
become the most important population segment in the 21st century and, therefore,
an important attention area for the future market due to its economic and
demographic weight. At the present time, they are over eight million of elderly
people over 65 and another 33% in Spain are older than
The people who
currently are older than 60 feel younger and in shape, and their level of
education is higher than in previous generations. They have been socialized in
consumption. With all likelihood, the diversity concerning life styles and
consumer habits within the elderly people, will see an increase as the Spanish baby boom generations start becoming
adults. We are, nevertheless, facing a major heterogenic citizenship, where we
find more diverse life styles instead citizens of a determined biological
age. This major citizenship has
escaped the forced stereotypes in the last decade of the 20th century, since
they constitute now a collective group with greater purchasing power, growing
everyday and with a future.
It is obvious
the need to “redefine” the social and public image of the elderly. After two
days of work in the meetings, it became clear the social ignorance that exists
on “how the new elderly really are”. The limited visibility of the elderly in
the media was mentioned, as they appear “little” and, when they do, it is
generally under a stereotype and deformed point of view, not very relevant, and
not very real. They continue using an old and obsolete profile that does not
reflect the reality of the Spanish elderly nowadays.
There is still
an old age stigmatization, and its rejection, an age discrimination phenomenon.
This confirms the important role that the media play, as socializing and opinion
moulding agents in the world where we live. The elderly, for the big media, “are
invisible” as normal and full right citizens: national radio and TV stations,
big newspaper headlines, and they are only a bit more important in the local
media. Thus, there is a duty for the elderly to be reactive and the urgent need
to become active and make ourselves visible, but not at any price, but through
an appropriate and real manner. The stereotypes that surround the elderly should
be banished. This becomes a responsibility for everyone; a shared responsibility
but especially for the elderly, that sometimes self-exclude
the importance to adopt an efficient and reactive role facing the aggressions to
the elderly image, but also a proactive role, in a way that succeeds in
overtaking, without delay, the existing “social near-sightedness” over the new
It is also
fundamental to take care of the language.
This has been defended before the media. We must be careful with the
verbal and audiovisual language, since it is never neutral. The possibility of
creating guides or style books was also discussed, and the use of real images
and written symbols of the elderly citizen.
It is essential
to work arm in arm with all the organisations, existing platforms, and media in
order to achieve this objective.
Age can never be a cause for discrimination.
The media must
ponder about the pertinence of avoiding topics and insisting in the news where
the main figure only appears related to the decadent, depressing, and derogatory
situations, and associated to passive and dependent situations. The media have
to recognize the “new elderly”, with multiple examples and life models that
represent real images of elderly people with initiative and that define an
active aging represented by the elderly of the 21st
emphasized the importance of collaborating within institutions and collective
groups (elderly associations) in this new image that promotes a highly active
model, and the need to reach a society that lives the intergenerationality and
respect for the elderly´s experiences in a natural way, as a step to reach a
true “Society of all ages”.
throughout life, the initiatives carried out by the elderly themselves, and the
work carried out by the social mediators are key for the new image and model
change for the elderly integrated in the future society.