What does it mean to be ageist? Ageism refers to prejudice, stereotyping or discrimination based on a person’s age. It can happen to people of any age, including younger people, but our focus is on ageism against older people. Here are some examples of ageism:
Media representation: Advertisements, films, television shows and other forms of media often depict older adults as frail, dependent or technologically challenged. These portrayals contribute to age-based discrimination and keep it alive. Even small things like greeting cards—which often portray older people in a derogatory manner — keep ageism alive.
Employment Discrimination: Age-related biases often affect older people who are seeking employment or career advancement. They may encounter challenges such as age limits in job advertisements, assumptions about reduced productivity or adaptability and stereotypes that older workers are technologically inept.
Social exclusion: Older adults may face age-based stereotypes that limit their access to social opportunities, education or political engagement. As a result, they may experience social isolation, loneliness or lack of inclusion which can affect their well-being and quality of life.
Health care access and treatment: Some health care providers may hold biasis and assumptions that older patients have diminished health outcomes. They may attribute health issues solely to age. This can result in inadequate treatment or neglect of health concerns. Ageism can also influence the allocation of health care resources.
Policy and legal challenges: ageism can be perpetuated through policies and practices that discriminate against older people. Examples include mandatory retirement ages, limitations on retirement benefits based solely on age.
Ageism is a widespread problem, and it shows up in a variety of ways across cultures and societies. It even shows up in older people themselves as something called “internalized ageism.”
Internalized ageism happens when an older person accepts the negative stereotypes, biases, and discrimination about aging. Those common stereotypes affect their own thoughts, behaviors, and self-esteem and even actions.
Other effects of internalized ageism include:
- negative view of oneself
- lower confidence and fewer opportunities
- health effects
- impact on seeking help.
Overall, internalized ageism can decrease a person’s quality of life. Find ways to interact positively with other generations. Celebrate the diversity of abilities of older people.
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