The impact of ageism on older adults and how to combat it

impact ageism

The Impact of Ageism on Older Adults and how to Combat it

Ageism is a form of discrimination that affects older adults in many areas of life, from employment and healthcare to access to cultural activities and leisure. This type of discrimination is often overlooked, as many see it as an inevitable part of life, or even something to be joked about.

What is Ageism?

Ageism is the prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination against people based on their age. It can manifest itself in assumptions about an older person’s capabilities, worth and lifestyle, or in stereotypes and jokes about age. Ageism is sometimes referred to as an ‘invisible minority’, as it is often overlooked but can have a significant impact on older people’s mental and physical health.

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How Can We Combat Ageism?

Fortunately, there are several steps we can take to reduce ageism and create a more inclusive society.

  • Foster Intergenerational Understanding – One way to tackle ageism is to encourage interaction between different ages. This can be done through family events, intergenerational workplaces, shared housing models and more4.
  • Challenge Ageist Attitudes – When we see or hear someone making ageist remarks, it is important to challenge them and point out why such attitudes are inappropriate. We must also be conscious of our own internalised ageist beliefs, and work to reduce our own prejudices.
  • Introduce Age Discrimination Laws – Where possible, we can strive to ensure that age-based discrimination is legally and socially unacceptable. This includes introducing laws to protect older adults in the workplace, in education, and in healthcare.
  • Increase Representation of Older People – Representation of older people in the media is often either tokenistic or inaccurate. We can help to reduce ageism by ensuring that older adults are accurately and respectfully represented.

The Impact of Ageism on Health

Ageism has a significant impact on the physical and mental health of older adults. Feeling stereotyped or being subject to ageist attitudes can lead to feelings of anger, loneliness and depression. It can also affect self-esteem and self-confidence, which can further reduce well-being.

Ageism in health care contexts can negatively affect the quality and accessibility of care, leaving older people vulnerable to poor health outcomes. Devaluing older people in healthcare can lead to neglect, mistreatment, or incorrect diagnosis and treatment.

In order to create a more equitable society, it is vital that we challenge ageism and its negative effects. By taking the steps outlined above, we can work to create a healthier and more fair world for all.

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