Ending Everyday Ageism – vital to improve the lives of older people.
The term ‘ageism’ was first coined 50 years ago to describe stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination of people based on their age or perceived age.
The impact of ageism and age discrimination is wide-ranging and underpins many of the issues and challenges faced by older people, leading to older people being treated unfairly and their rights not being upheld. Ageism also influences the decisions made by society, meaning that the services, support, facilities and opportunities that people need to help them to age well can be inadequate or difficult to access.
Every day, we are bombarded by media and advertising that reinforces stereotypes about older people, with images and messages often focused on ill-health, decline and frailty. Growing older is often presented as something we should fear and something we should try to prevent from happening.
But ageism is not confined to the media and advertisers. Age discrimination in the workplace – which is founded on debunked myths about a lack of productivity, poorer health and an unwillingness to adapt to change amongst older people – often results in older people being prevented from remaining in or returning to work. We also know that people in their 50s are twice as likely to be made redundant than people in their 40s,2 despite the extensive skills, knowledge and experience they are likely to have.
Employing just half of the older people in the UK who want to work would increase GDP by up to £25bn a year, so ageism and age discrimination in the workplace is not only impacting upon individuals, but on our economy as well.
Older people can also face ageism when accessing health services, with research showing that negative attitudes towards older adults affect the availability and quality 14 of care3. Furthermore, research focused on Wales, undertaken by the Older People’s Commissioner, found that nearly 1 in 10 older people have been made to feel too old to receive health services.4
It’s therefore essential that we raise awareness about the kinds of ageism faced by older people every single day and the impact this can have on their lives, as well as challenging ageism and age discrimination at every opportunity.
You can also find out more about the campaign, and access a range of useful information and resources, at the Commissioner’s #EverydayAgeism campaign hub – www.olderpeoplewales.com/everydayageism
Alongside the campaign, the Commissioner is also launching a new information guide for older people – Taking Action Against Ageism – and will be delivering a series of training sessions for older people throughout Wales, to empower them to both recognise and challenge ageism.
By working together, we have an opportunity to change attitudes by demonstrating how widespread ageism is across society and challenging the myths and assumptions about older people that fuel ageism. So why not get involved and play your part in tackling #EverydayAgeism?
5 Levy, B., Slade, Martin D., Kasl, S. V., Kunkel, S. R., (2002), Longevity increased by positive selfperceptions of ageing, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, no.2, 261-270