Ageism, unfairly judging and mistreating individuals because of their age, is a widespread problem that often escapes attention in society. This bias impacts people of all ages, from young adults to older people, and its consequences are extensive, affecting not only individuals but entire communities.
It’s no secret that we’re an ageing population, with people living and working longer than ever. The number of individuals reaching retirement age is increasing, as demographics indicate that in the UK, over 11 million people are aged 65 and above.
Ageism Awareness Day, on 7th October 2023, reminds us that age-based biases are real and prevalent in our society. This day isn’t just another date on the calendar; it’s a powerful catalyst for change, a platform for raising awareness, and a call to action for a more inclusive and fair future for everyone – exactly what we are building here at AgeGroup.
The APA Dictionary of Psychology defines ageism as: the tendency to be prejudiced against older adults, to negatively stereotype them (e.g., as unhealthy, helpless, or incompetent), and to discriminate against them, especially in employment and health care.
Ageism is a deeply rooted bias that unfairly judges and discriminates against people because of their age. It comes in many forms, such as mistreating older people or excluding younger individuals. Other common forms of ageism include:
- Stereotyping: Ageism involves negative assumptions and ageist stereotypes about people based on age, often perpetuated through media and societal biases.
- Discrimination in employment: Age-based discrimination in the workplace includes hiring biases, limited career opportunities, and forced early retirement for older employees.
- Media and cultural ageism: Ageism in media manifests through negative portrayals of older adults, limited representation, and influences public perceptions.
- Healthcare disparities: Age-related healthcare disparities result from differences in treatment, access, and medical decisions influenced by age-based stereotypes, especially for older patients.
According to the global report on ageism by the World Health Organization 1 in 2 people are ageist against older people! Ageism also intersects with other forms of discrimination. For example, older women have faced unique challenges due to the intersection of ageism and sexism, highlighting the need to address ageism through an intersectional lens.
The personal impact of ageism
Understanding the personal toll of ageism is crucial for recognising its urgency as a societal problem. Ageism can impact you in several profound ways, including:
- Psychologically: When you face stereotypes or unfair treatment based on age, it can lead to feelings of inadequacy, depression, and anxiety. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health proved that ageism has well-established adverse effects on older people’s physical and mental health.
- Physically: Research has found that if you experience chronic stress due to ageism, you may be at a higher risk of physical health conditions like hypertension and heart disease.
- Economically: Ageism at work can result in job loss or missed career opportunities, potentially causing economic instability and impacting your financial security and overall quality of life.
- Socially: Ageism can result in social isolation, particularly among older adults who may feel excluded or undervalued. Loneliness and isolation can seriously affect physical health, mental health and well-being.
The impact of ageism on society
Ageism doesn’t just harm individuals; it has far-reaching consequences for our entire society.
It affects our economy by limiting the contributions of older workers and hindering the potential of younger generations. It takes a toll on our healthcare system, leading to disparities in treatment. Ageism also drives wedges between generations, creating unnecessary divides. It can levy substantial barriers to individuals, impeding their access to opportunities and fair treatment based on age.
Ageism essentially chips away at the unity of our society, wearing down the core values of fairness and inclusiveness that we all deeply value.
Why is Ageism Awareness Day needed?
Ageism Awareness Day plays a crucial role in our society because it addresses negative attitudes and harmful stereotypes associated with age. Ageism unfairly judges people based solely on their age, perpetuating the idea that older adults are less capable or valuable while overlooking the potential of younger adults. These biases limit opportunities for personal growth and hinder societal progress, creating divisions among different age groups.
Recognising ageism’s personal and broader societal impacts is essential to motivating change and building a society where age is no longer a barrier to success or happiness.
Ageism Awareness Day is needed to raise awareness about age bias and discrimination, promote inclusivity, and inspire actions to combat ageism in society. This day serves as a dedicated opportunity to shine a light on the problem, educating people about the harmful impact of ageism on individuals and society.
Ageism often goes unnoticed or unreported because it is deeply ingrained in our culture. Ageist attitudes and behaviours can be subtle, making it difficult for people to recognise and challenge them. Ageism Awareness Day brings these issues to the forefront, prompting discussions and self-reflection.
Moreover, this day calls for action against age-based discrimination through policy changes, workplace initiatives, and cultural shifts. It fosters a society that values and respects all ages, promoting fairness and social cohesion.
The importance of Ageism Awareness Day
Ageism Awareness Day holds significant importance for individuals, communities, and society. Here’s why this day matters:
Raising public awareness
Ageism often operates beneath the surface of our consciousness. Ageism Awareness Day brings it into the spotlight, ensuring that people from all walks of life become aware of the issue. We can engage a broader audience in discussions and actions against discrimination by illuminating ageism.
It is also vital to raise public awareness regarding ageism and human rights. The Equality Act 2010 says that you must not be discriminated against because:
- You are (or are not) a certain age or in a certain age group.
- Someone thinks you are (or are not) a specific age or age group. This is known as discrimination by perception.
- You are connected to someone of a particular age or age group. This is known as discrimination by association.
Stereotypes about age persist in society, affecting how we perceive and interact with people of different age groups. Typical examples range from workplace discrimination against older people to only having young people as the face of brands and advertising.
A recent study has shown that only 25% of TV ads feature characters aged 50 or older, down from 29% in 2020. This means that even though they were already at low levels, the representation of older people on screen actually declined during the pandemic.
Ageism Awareness Day challenges these stereotypes by presenting counter-narratives and promoting more realistic, nuanced views of ageing. It also encourages us to see people beyond their age and recognise their unique qualities and contributions in later life.
Advocating for policy changes
Change often kickstarts when policies are adjusted. Ageism Awareness Day motivates advocacy, prompting policymakers to tackle age-based discrimination in areas like jobs, healthcare, and media representation. It encourages the development of policies that promote inclusivity.
For instance, implementing age-inclusive workplace hiring practices could ensure that the organisation gives equal opportunities to older and younger people and refrains from discriminating against them based on age.
Inspiring personal action
Ageism Awareness Day inspires people to take personal action against ageism. Whether through challenging stereotypes in daily interactions, supporting age-inclusive initiatives, taking part in interventions, or becoming advocates for older and younger generations, we can all make a difference in our own spheres of influence.
A recently conducted systematic review and meta-analysis showed that ageism interventions demonstrated an enormously significant effect on attitudes. This shows that negative stereotypes can be addressed by implementing feasible strategies involving education and intergenerational contact to bridge the inequality gap.
What AgeGroup is doing to help tackle ageism
Here at AgeGroup, our mission extends beyond the present; it’s about reshaping perceptions and paving the way for a future where individuals can confidently embrace their Modern Elder years without the burden of ageism.
Our growing online presence across all our digital platforms signifies the trust we’ve earned from the over-50s audience in the UK, and we’re committed to proving that this trust is well-deserved. We offer a range of initiatives to combat ageism, including Agefriend.ly, a web-based directory highlighting age-friendly businesses. Additionally, our websites, tailored for those over 50, Health Times, Pension Times, and Age Times, provide valuable content across a wide range of topics, and you can sign up for our weekly newsletter featuring the best from all three platforms.
Our LinkedIn feed offers a steady stream of updates encompassing various topics relevant to individuals aged 50 and above, including strategies for addressing ageism.
Additionally, for businesses looking to market to the over-50s demographic effectively, we offer a comprehensive guide designed to assist you in reaching this valuable audience. If you want to obtain a copy of this guide, please contact us. We aim to provide you with the resources and knowledge needed to successfully navigate the evolving landscape of age-inclusive marketing.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming launch, AgeMeet, a secure space for modern elders to engage with one another as we continue our fight against ageism.
At AgeGroup, we believe that everyone deserves to age with dignity, respect, and a sense of belonging. We invite you to join us in our mission to champion the fight against ageism and shape a future where older age is no longer a barrier to living a fulfilling life.
How can I participate in Ageism Awareness Day?
Participating in Ageism Awareness Day is a meaningful way to contribute to the fight against ageism and promote age-inclusivity, and thankfully, there are many ways to do so.
Start by educating yourself about ageism, its manifestations, and its impact on individuals and society. Read books and articles written by gerontologists, including James Birren, Robert Butler, and Wilma Donahue, and watch documentaries or videos that address age-related biases.
Engaging in discussions
Initiate conversations about ageism with friends, family, and colleagues. Age discrimination in the workplace not only hampers the professional growth of older individuals but also stifles the potential for diverse and multi-generational collaboration.
Encourage open dialogues about age-based discrimination and share your knowledge and insights. You can start a conversation by asking questions such as “Have you ever seen or experienced ageism?” or “Do you think stereotypes about age affect how we treat people of different ages?”
Utilise social media platforms to raise awareness about Ageism Awareness Day. Share informative posts, articles, or personal experiences related to ageism using hashtags like #AgeismAwarenessDay.
Online advocacy is vital for ageism awareness. It enables a global reach, fosters engagement, and empowers diverse generations to share information and stories, creating a dynamic platform for combating age-based discrimination.
Attending local events
Look for local events, workshops, or seminars on ageism and Ageism Awareness Day and participate in these events to learn more and connect with like-minded individuals.
To find and attend local events related to ageism awareness, check community bulletin boards, online event listings, and social media for announcements.
Sharing personal stories
If you or someone you know has experienced ageism, consider sharing your story to raise awareness and humanise the issue, as personal narratives can be powerful tools for change.
We understand that sometimes sharing personal stories can be challenging, but doing so may inspire empathy and understanding among others, fostering a sense of unity and encouraging them to confront ageism.
In your workplace or community, advocate for age-inclusive practices and policies to encourage diversity and inclusion efforts that consider individuals of all age groups. This could include advocating for anti-ageism policies in recruitment processes and ensuring mentoring opportunities are available to people of all ages.
Learning from different generations
Take advantage of opportunities to connect with people from different age groups, fostering intergenerational relationships and understanding that can break down stereotypes and biases in both your personal and professional life.
Remember that combating ageism is not limited to a single day. You should commit to ongoing action and advocacy throughout the year to make age-inclusivity a consistent effort.
Tackle ageism with AgeGroup
Ageism, rooted in societal attitudes and stereotypes, is influenced by various determinants, shaping how individuals of different ages are perceived and treated. At AgeGroup, we’re dedicated to combating ageism and fostering a society where people of all ages are valued and included.
Our initiatives aim to create connections and communities that transcend age-related biases. We are committed to our mission, from publications like AgeTimes, offering inspiration for breaking age stereotypes, to sponsoring events like Longevitech that support age-inclusive technologies.
AgeFriendly is our directory, which we’ve launched to help you discover the perfect places near you. Using it, you can find awesome places to dine, drink and chat about healthy ageing with peers. You can also support local businesses run by people of all ages.
In 2023, we’re also thrilled to introduce AgeMeet, a secure platform that addresses social isolation among older individuals, providing them with opportunities for meaningful interactions and connections.
With technology as our ally, we’re determined to eliminate ageism and promote inclusivity in our society. Will you join us on this important journey?