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Effects of Ageism

Ageism is prejudice or discrimination against people based on their age. It's a systemic form of oppression, but unlike other causes of inequity, such as racism, sexism, or ableism, anyone can experience it. It typically applies to people who are older but can also affect young people. Ageism has a negative impact on physical and mental health and reports link it with earlier death. Although it is universal, people do not always take ageism as seriously as other forms of inequity.

Recent studies have shown that one in every two people in the world is believed to have ageist attitudes which attribute to the poorer physical and mental health and reduced quality of life for older people, costing societies billions each year, according to a new United Nations report on ageism.

Ageism leads to poorer health, social isolation, earlier deaths and cost economies billions: report calls for swift action to implement effective anti-ageism strategies - United Nations

Types of ageism

There are many ways to categorise and describe ageism. Below we list 3 common types:

  • Institutional ageism, occurs when an institution perpetuates ageism through its actions and policies

  • Interpersonal ageism, which occurs in social interactions

  • Internalised ageism, which is when a person internalises ageist beliefs and applies them to themselves.

Data from surveys has found that 82% of older people reported experiencing ageism regularly. The survey found that:

  • 65% experienced ageist messages from the media

  • 45% experienced interpersonal ageism

  • 36% had internalised ageism



How to stop ageism

The World Health Organisation states there are three ways to combat ageism:

  • Education to dispel myths and stereotypes

  • Intergenerational interventions, which create cooperation and empathy between age groups

  • Law and policy changes, which can reduce inequity and discrimination

Ageism can range from subtle actions to blatant acts of discrimination. A few signs of ageism include:

  • Exclusion from a group, such as at school or at work

  • Being passed over for promotions or raises

  • Being laid off or forced to retire

  • Negative comments about a person's age

  • Having your input or ideas ignored or dismissed

  • Losing out on benefits such as paid time off

  • Not having access to learning opportunities


Conclusion

Let's take action to combat ageism and encourage organisations and communities to have better measurement and reporting to expose ageism for what it is an insidious scourge on society. Ageism towards younger and older people is prevalent, unrecognised, unchallenged and has far-reaching consequences for our economies and societies, if we stand together and fight this insidious scourge on society with preventive measures we can combat ageism. Join the ageist movement!


If you or someone you know is experiencing discrimination because of your age check out these useful Links:


Age UK

Equality And Human Rights Commission

Equality Advisory Services


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