Experiencing prejudice and discrimination on the basis of age is known as ageism and is an extremely common experience for older people globally.
The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) published a report on how negative attitudes on ageing impact the health and well-being of older people and found that there were widespread ageist attitudes throughout society in the United Kingdom.
The Independent article “Millennials Feel Most Negatively About Ageing, Report Finds” highlights many of the key findings of the report and discusses initiatives that can be used to combat ageism. For instance, the report shows that individuals who hold negative feelings about ageing are more likely to internalize these ideas and live “on average seven and half years less than those who view it in a positive light.” The World Health Organization is a world leader in addressing misconceptions about ageing. Contact the Director of Ageing and Life-course, Dr John Beard to learn more.
Trivializing ageist language and behaviour is one way that this form of prejudice has remained so prevalent in society. Countering these narratives is crucial in ensuring the rapidly ageing global population does not have to live with barriers that reinforce societal ageism. Dr Debra Whitman, Chief Public Policy Officer at AARP, can speak to the role of policy development and analysis in combating ageism.
Ending the use of “anti-ageing” in the beauty industry, discussing what ageism is in schools and promoting intergenerational initiatives are all strategies that can be taken to combat ageism. Ms Donna Butts, Executive Director of Generations United, can further add to this discussion and address the importance of brining individuals of all ages together.
With many millennials believing that older age is a period of decline, that loneliness is a natural part of ageing and that it is normal for older people to be depressed, it is imperative that ageist misconceptions are countered.
Dr. John Beard Director of Ageing and Life Course
Dr John Beard, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., is Director of Ageing and Life Course with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva
Dr. Debra Whitman Chief Public Policy Officer
Debra Whitman, PhD, is an economist and expert on aging issues with extensive experience in national policymaking and global research.
Ms. Donna Butts Executive Director
Ms. Butts frequently speaks on intergenerational connections, grandparents raising grandchildren and policies effective across the lifespan.