Despite the many contributions of older people to society and their wide diversity, negative attitudes about older people are common across societies and are seldom challenged.
Stereotyping (how we think), prejudice (how we feel), discrimination (how we act) towards people on the basis of their age is ageism. (Definition from World Health Organization)
Ageism affects people of all ages but has particularly deleterious effects on the health and well-being of older people. Ageism, unlike aging, is not inevitable. Ending ageism benefits us all.
The Global campaign to combat ageism, an initiative supported by the 194 Member States of the World Health Organization, and integral to the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing(2021-2030) has produced many ideas and resources for anyone in the world to use. The campaign aims to tackle ageism by changing how we all think, feel and act towards age and ageing.
This link connects to the Toolkit with its information and ideas for action.
In Saskatchewan, SSM has worked to analyze whether ageism is present in our population, how it is recognized and how we might reduce or eliminate its destructive effects.
The Ageism and Media project (from 2017 to 2019) used objective common forms that volunteer monitors completed as data for analysis of how mainstream media included people 50+ in stories and articles on TV, radio and in daily and weekly newspapers. Results indicated that older adults were most conspicuous by their absence. Ageist language and concepts were most often present in “humourous” columns in weekly papers, often written by older adults themselves who were unaware of the ageist concepts that they carried within themselves.
Ageism and Media project produced the guide Words are Powerful and provided it to journalists as we visited various newsrooms and management throughout Saskatchewan.
In 2021 Linda Anderson, Ageism Awareness staff, led three webinars on Zoom. These were:
- An Introduction to Ageism
- Ageism in Medical Systems
- Ageism in Workplaces and Volunteer Organizations
Groups interested in providing webinars in their communities should contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Longevity is here to stay. Everyone is aging. In fact, thanks to medical advances and education about maintaining good physical and mental health, the human life span is increasing, especially adding years to the lives of people over 80. Many more people reach the century mark and beyond. This is good news! It will be better news when ageist understandings cease to underly decision-making in local communities, in provincial and national governments, in medical systems, and in businesses of all varieties. Changing ageist understandings can mean that the contributions of older adults will be valued, older adults will receive appropriate supports to age as actively and healthily as possible AND all of this will produce positive effects for residents of ALL ages in our villages, towns and cities.