Ageism is a widespread problem and shows up in many ways across cultures and societies. This month we look at the most common forms of ageism in everyday life and explain the many effects of internalised ageism.
According to a 2019 United Nations report, societies globally are experiencing a longevity revolution or ageing population. Sadly, this revolution coincides with systemic societal ageism – so common the World Health Organisation believes one in two people hold ageist attitudes.
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.
1. Media Representations
Advertisements, films, television shows, and other media often depict older adults as frail, dependent, or technologically challenged. These portrayals both contribute to age-based discrimination and keep it alive. Even small things like greeting cards, which often portray older people in a derogatory manner, promote ageism.
2. Employment Discrimination
Ageism in the workplace is a problem in many countries. 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. These discriminatory practices limit opportunities for older people to contribute to the workforce and earn an income.
3. Social Exclusion
Besides employment, 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, all of which can affect their well-being and quality of life.
4. Health Care Access and Treatment
Ageism also shows up in the health care sector. Some health care providers may hold biases and assumptions that older patients have diminished health outcomes. They may attribute health issues solely to age, which can result in inadequate treatment or neglect of health concerns. Ageism can also influence the allocation of health care resources, where care for older people may receive lower priority.
5. Policy and Legal Challenges
Ageism can be perpetuated through policies and practices that discriminate against older people. Examples include mandatory retirement ages in certain professions or limitations on retirement benefits based solely on age. These policies can reinforce age-based stereotypes and hinder the full participation and contributions of older adults in society.
Do you ever have one of those days where every time you misplace something or cannot recall a name, you declare you are having a ‘senior moment’ instead of having compassion for self? Perhaps, you just have too much on your plate.
Internalised ageism happens when an older person accepts the negative stereotypes, biases, and discrimination about aging. These common stereotypes affect their own thoughts, behaviours, self-esteem, and even actions. Sadly, internalised ageism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It might be as simple as laughing at an ageist birthday card and even limiting their activities based on what they think an older person ‘should’ do.
Other Effects of Internalised Ageism may include:
Having a negative view of oneself. Older people who have internalised ageism may develop a negative view of their own aging process. They may think of themselves as less competent, attractive, or valuable compared to younger adults. This negative self-image can erode their self-esteem and lead to feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt.
Lower confidence and fewer opportunities. Internalised ageism can undermine older people’s confidence in pursuing new opportunities or challenges. They may doubt their abilities and skip chances for personal growth, career advancement, or simply trying new things” This can lead to social isolation and fewer life experiences.
Health effects. Believing in negative age-related stereotypes and thinking of oneself as ‘old’ or ‘frail’ can cause stress, anxiety, and depression. The psychological distress caused by internalised ageism may also affect one’s physical health.
Impact on seeking help. Internalised ageism may keep older people from seeking necessary support or health care services. They may downplay or dismiss their health concerns, believing that certain symptoms or conditions are inevitable consequences of aging. This can result in delayed diagnosis, untreated health conditions, or inadequate self-care.
Overall, internalised ageism can decrease a person’s quality of life. At Right at Home, we believe we can all do our part to challenge ageist beliefs and promote healthy aging. Adults of all ages should remember that they, too, will be senior citizens. Find ways to interact positively with people of other generations and celebrate the diversity and abilities of older people.
United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that ageism can affect every generation. She stated that ageism is “so widespread and accepted that we do not even recognise its detrimental effect on our dignity and rights”. We agree that we must fight ageism head-on as a deep-rooted human rights violation.
At Right at Home, we deliver quality home care support services to seniors in their own home. We respect all of our clients, including seniors, and provide them with the care and attention of a friend. Our Mission is 'to improve the quality of life for those we serveTM' and we do this every day through the delivery of companion care, personal care, and skilled nursing. See what services we can deliver for you or your loved ones to keep independence at home.
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Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companionship and personal care, and assistance to seniors (elderly and aged care), and any adult who needs our care at home including adults living with a disability who want to continue to live independently or age in their home. Right at Home is your local expert for issues related to caring for your loved ones and is dedicated to keeping you informed about home care. With no package management fees Right at Home allows you to get more care from your package or budget.
Right at Home is a 'My Aged Care' government approved, home care provider for levels 1 – 4 and offers flexible in-home care services such as nursing care, after hospital care, post-operative care, respite care, dementia and Alzheimer's care. Right at Home also offers assistance with daily living and personal care such as grooming, hygiene, transport, shopping, meal prep, domestic services and social support, so your loved one can enjoy a more independent, vibrant life. Our nurses and caregivers are screened, highly trained, and insured prior to entering your home so you can trust us with the caregiving while you focus on your loved one.
To find out more, please give us a call on 1300 363 802 or visit our website.
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