Wayne Adult Community Center

From the April, 2004 Cyberspace News

Self-Esteem For Seniors

Every day we hear stories that concern self-esteem, a concept that is defined as an individual's sense of self-worth. Indeed, the term "self-esteem" has become a component of daily language. High self-esteem has been acknowledged in the media as a solution not only to personal problems, but society's difficulties.

Generalizations about self-esteem in various societal populations abound. One of those generalizations involves seniors and self-esteem. The rationale is that since our society favors youth over all else, and since the stereotype of "old people" is negative, as people grow older, their self-esteem declines and most be boosted.

Yet study after study refutes this assumption. In fact, evidence shows that seniors do not suffer from low self-esteem. Furthermore, recent research suggests that some of the problems the media attributes to low self-esteem is actually associated with inflated and unstable self-esteem.

In an article on the website, the research of Dr. Sharon Kaufman and her work with seniors indicates the importance of a continuous sense of self throughout one's life. This sense of self does not change as a result of people passing through any particular stage of life (i.e. infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, etc.). People, in general, tend to feel the same about themselves as they did in their earlier years.

Perhaps we should make a greater effort to get rid of negative stereotypes of seniors and change those aspects of culture that prohibit seniors from leading active, positive lives. As the world's senior population increases (as it is doing every single day), it will increase the need for a change toward much more positive cultural values regarding senior citizens.