“Ageism is stereotyping, discrimination and mistreatment based solely upon age. When directed towards older people, it comes from negative attitudes and beliefs about what it means to be older.” EveryAGE Counts.
Ageism is a very destructive type of discrimination that is particularly damaging because it is so normal, and almost expected, in Australian society. What makes ageism slightly different to other ‘-isms’ is that we have all either been younger or will (hopefully) become older, and therefore, we discriminate against younger or older versions of ourselves.
By valuing youth over age, ageism in Australia is present in how we talk about older age and expectations about what being older means. Ageism normalises disrespect towards older people, and this can lead to elder abuse.
Too often, older people are portrayed as out of touch, frail, forgetful or worthless.
Research published in 2014 (Levy et al., 2014) found that found 98% of Facebook group descriptions of older adults reflected negative stereotypes.
As our population ages, the number of people affected by ageism and elder abuse will increase, so it’s more important than ever that we raise awareness and challenge negative attitudes towards ageing.
Older people don’t have to put up with abuse and have the right to live with dignity and safety.
Ageist stereotypes are now so embedded in society and social media that only a concerted national campaign that combines legislation with education can begin to stop the abuse and marginalisation of older people. EveryAGE Counts is a campaign that does just that. To find out more about ageism and commit to helping end it, visit the EveryAGE Counts website here.
If you are interested in discussing ageism online, you might also be interested in the Facebook group Ageism Prevention.