Thursday April 25, 2019
Home Lead Story The Story of ...

The Story of Ageism In America

Workers 55 and older already make up one-third of home health and personal care aides.

0
//
Age
Are Aging Americans Too Old to Work? VOA

Each workday, Marty Harwell, age 66, sets the alarm for 5:15 p.m., giving himself enough time to grab a shower and something to eat before clocking in for his 7 p.m. night shift as a pediatric nurse working in home health care.

The California man, who worked in the music industry for most of his adult life, fell back on nursing full time in order to guarantee a steady income for himself and his family.

“I’ve had a couple of questions like, ‘When are you going to retire?’ somewhat facetiously from people who want my slot, who are younger,” Harwell says, “but otherwise I have not encountered any kind of age discrimination or pay loss.”

Harwell is among the almost 1 in 5 Americans aged 65 and older who are still working or looking for work, according to the AARP, a nonprofit organization that advocates for older Americans.

But while two-thirds of senior citizens say they plan to work well into their retirement years like Harwell is doing, only about 20 percent actually do.

Age
By 2030, one in every five residents will be older than age 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. VOA

There are a number of reasons for this under-employment, according to Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist who specializes in retirement security.

“They have to find the best job under limited circumstances,” Ghilarducci says. “They’re usually stuck in place because they own a house or they have a lot of embedded family relations. So the one challenge is that they can’t move like young people can to find a good job.”

The second challenge is age discrimination.

“Especially against women and not just in terms of being hired, but also promotion, training and pay increases,” she says. “Ageism seems to affect women more than men. Meaning that perceptions of older women in terms of their ability to learn, their ability to get along with other people at work, are viewed as more negative than it is for an older man.”

Another roadblock is that certain jobs require more physical ability than some older people have. Also, they might not be as up to speed on computers as younger workers. And even if senior citizens are able to catch up, many employers might be reluctant to offer training to older workers due to concerns it won’t pay off because the older worker might not stay on the job as long as a younger co-worker.

age
VOA

For some of those older Americans who are employed, the job is often more lucrative than ever. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that workers over 65 are not only making more money on average than ever before, but they’re also outpacing the average earnings growth of other age groups.

But Ghilarducci cautions that those rosy numbers can be misleading.

“We find there’s a lot more inequality among the older age groups,” she says. “So there are some very highly paid people who are older who are getting big wage increases, but the average is being pulled up by just a few.”

By 2030, one in every five residents will be older than age 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

More age-friendly employers in the not-for-profit sector, such as hospitals and government agencies, are preparing for the time when there are many more older people in the workforce. Workers 55 and older already make up one-third of home health and personal care aides.

However, Ghilarducci finds that far fewer for-profit companies are creating workplaces that will attract older people.

As for Marty Harwell, he has no plans to retire. Most of his friends still work, at least part time, and he expects to do the same.

Also Read: Usage of E-cigarettes In American Teens Have Reached ‘Epidemic Proportions’: FDA

“About three years ago I realized I wanted to come full circle back to my musical profession and then from there I realized, ‘Well, I don’t really want to retire per se,’” he says. “I am going to shift gears and do what makes me genuinely happy.”

Harwell views working in music as a “joyful task” and expects returning to his passion will earn him enough money to keep him happy and satisfied during his so-called “Golden Years.” (VOA)

Next Story

Architecture of US Homes Tell Story of America

From colonials to Victorians to ranch-style houses and McMansions, the story of American residential architecture is that it tends to be eclectic

0
america, architecture, US homes
A home built in the colonial style in New Castle, New Hampshire. (Photo by Carol Highsmith) VOA

The architecture of American homes is a lot like America itself, a hodgepodge of different styles from different countries often melded together into one whole.

From colonials to Victorians to ranch-style houses and McMansions, the story of American residential architecture is that it tends to be eclectic.

“The history of American residential architecture has always been kind of like an all-you-can-eat buffet,” says architect Susan Piedmont-Palladino, director of Virginia Tech’s Washington Alexandria Architecture Center. “We can borrow anybody’s style of architecture and I’m not sure that’s the attitude in other countries around the world. I also think we’re dominated by the single family house in a way that other places aren’t.”

US homes, america, architecture
Castle Rock, completed in 1950 in Quasqueton, Iowa, is one of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most complete “Usonian” homes. (Photo by Carol Highsmith) Photo: Library of Congress. VOA

What that single family home looks like can vary.

“Most houses built today do not reflect any one style, but integrate ideas from many cultures,” Jackie Craven, a journalist who specializes in architecture and fine arts, told VOA via email. “A single house can have a French-inspired mansard roof, Grecian columns, and English Tudor-inspired timbering. Our homes, like our people, draw from many sources.”

architecture, america, US Homes
Built in 1930, this neoclassical Georgian home in Dallas, Texas, is a near-replica of George Washington’s Mount Vernon home in Virginia. (Photo by Carol Highsmith). VOA

After the American Revolution, the architecture of public buildings often borrowed from Greece and Rome to express democratic ideals of order and symmetry. This neoclassic style also extended to private homes, notably Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

The long reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria, from 1837 until 1901, occurred during a time of American prosperity. Mass-production of building parts allowed for the construction of elaborate, affordable Victorian-style houses throughout the country.

US homes, architecture, america
The Pollock-Capps House is a Victorian mansion built in 1898 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Carol Highsmith). VOA

The style of American homes has often reflected what the country itself is experiencing.

“During the Industrial Revolution, steel transformed the American landscape. The strength of this new metal made skyscrapers possible, rebuilding Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871,” says Craven. “The lavish Gilded Age mansions of the late 1800s and modern-day McMansions both reflect the conspicuous consumption of a powerful wealthy class. Minimalist post-Victorian architecture rebelled against excess, and the 20th century brought new solutions for affordable housing. Catalogue companies like Sears sold mail order house kits, making home ownership achievable even during the Depression.”

US home, architecture, america
The Rosenbaum House, built in Florence, Alabama, in 1939, is the only structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the state. (Photo by Carol Highsmith). VOA

The architect who most defined American residential architecture might well be Frank Lloyd Wright, who eschewed the idea of borrowing architecture from Europe or anywhere else.

In the first half of the 20th century, up until the 1950s, Wright’s designs and philosophy brought a new American modernity to the single family home. He pioneered housing features — such as low horizontal lines and open floor plans — that can still be found in suburban America today.
us home , america, architecture
A Cape Cod-style home, a simple, rectangular structure, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. (Photo by Carol Highsmith) VOA

“He was very interested in a relationship with the land…this idea of relating terraces and the gardens and the landscape into the house…the roof would extend out, blurring the boundaries between inside and out,” Piedmont-Palladino says. “Wright really pioneered the unique architecture, and little bits of it do still show up. There’s a little Frank Lloyd Wright DNA in split-level houses and ranch houses still.”

The simple Cape Cod, a derivative of American colonial houses, and the ranch house, more reflective of America’s modernism, both dominate all of the other residential architectural styles in the United States, according to Craven.

US home, architecture, america
A ranch-house-style home in Sun City, a historic suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Carol Highsmith) VOA

Wright would probably be horrified by today’s oversized neo-colonials. Derisively dubbed ‘McMansions,’ these homes borrow loosely from classic architectural styles of the past.

What will the next dominant style of American house be? Piedmont-Palladino is concerned that the home-building industry doesn’t appear prepared to take on the challenge of building better-performing houses.

america, us homes, architecture
Today’s eclectic oversized houses, built in traditional styles, seen here in St. Louis, Missouri, have been referred to as “McMansions.” (Photo by Flickr user Paul Sableman via Creative Commons.) VOA

“I would like to be optimistic and think that, in a generation, the dominant language of American house construction is sustainable and that we would start to look at building environmentally responsibly, so that houses perform better. This is one of the big issues that is confronting us,” she says. “Houses are getting bigger and bigger and less efficient, even as our families are getting smaller.”

ALSO READ: Frenchman Trip Across Atlantic in Barrel Coming to an End

In addition to eco-friendly designs, Craven also envisions more avant-garde architecture with unusual shapes. New digital software can easily manipulate classic shapes, giving them a curvy or lopsided twist that could hit home in a modern way. (VOA)