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Ageism Is Discrimination Against Seniors

Ageism is a real issue in today’s young oriented society.

Some examples of ageism include: 

  • Losing a job because of your age. 
  • Being refused interest-free credit, 
  • Being refused a new credit card, 
  • Being denied auto insurance, or travel insurance 
  • Receiving a lower quality of service in a shop or restaurant because of the organization’s attitude to older people.

There are many more but you get my drift. Ageism is the stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against people on the basis of their age. It is widespread and an insidious practice, more so in the western countries, that has harmful effects on the health of older adults. For older people, age discrimination is an everyday challenge. Overlooked or disregarded for employment opportunities, restricted from many social services and stereotyped in the media, ageism marginalizes and excludes older people in their communities. Ageism is everywhere, yet it is the most socially “normalized” of any prejudice and is for the most part not talked about. It does not have the newsworthiness of racism or sexism. These attitudes lead to the marginalization of older people within our communities and have negative impacts on their health and well-being.

A great majority of people past the age of 65, the standard retirement age, have an awful lot to offer. The main one; many years of experience. Experience is something you develop over time and it cannot be substituted by a BA, an MA, or an MBA. Also, many older people have a little something called “common sense“, something greatly lacking in many younger people. Not all – but a lot.

My godfather was a good example of an experienced human being. He opened a chain of fabric stores back in the fifties and was one of the first western businessmen to travel to Mao’s China and to sign a contract for the supply of Chinese made fabrics. He sold the business in his eighties and continued to work until his retirement at age 90. He lived to the grand old age of 102 and was still cracking jokes and telling tales up to that time. 

Caption: Elders Can Reinvigorate The Workforce.

Some countries regard their senior population as an asset. In North America, the tendency is to discard them. Stick them in an “elderly care home” where the word “elderly” is the only word in the 3-word phrase that has truth to it. “Care” and “Home”, less so. One just has to look at the disgraceful treatment of seniors at these so-called care homes in the province of Quebec to understand the terrible conditions many of them live in. You see them in most aged-care facilities, seated on pastel-colored lounges, being babysat by a television they are mostly not watching. Some are asleep, some are sedated, some are cognitively impaired. Seeing them like this, it’s hard to remember they were once young, vital, and independent. What’s harder is thinking that it might one day be you.

A study carried out in the UK (Britain) provided some interesting results that contradicted the opinions of some that seniors are a drag on society and the economy. The research, for volunteer charity WRVS, is the first to attempt to quantify the role of older generations. Taking together the tax payments, spending power, caring responsibilities and volunteering effort of people aged 65-plus, it calculates that they contribute almost £40bn (USD$50B) more to the UK economy than they receive in-state pensions, welfare, and health services.

Many ethnic groups around the globe place seniors on a pedestal and include them in raising the children, cherish them for their advice and experience, and generally look after them until their demise. Why is it in so many English speaking countries, the elderly are tossed out like a bag of old clothes?

A change must come in this little regarded social problem. The aging population is growing quickly. With technological and scientific advancements in the medical field, more people around the world are living well into their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, and in a few locations, into their early 100s.

The World Health Organization predicts that people older than 60 will make up at least 22 percent of the world’s population by 2050. A huge jump from 2015, where older adults made up only 12 percent of the world’s population.

As this demographic group grows, ageism is an alarming stigma that affects everyone sooner or later. It needs to be addressed not just by governments but by people like your self. 

If you have any comments, disagreements or additional information on this post, please contact me either through Pippies or through my website.

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Post Image Credit: Eliem Dumon, Unsplash

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Written by Michael Trigg

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