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We always hear and talk about racism, sexism but do you know about the term “Ageism”?

Discrimination based on age Ageism is widespread throughout the world. A study of more than 7 million people aged 50 and older in 45 countries found that age affected whether or not they got medical treatment and, whether the treatment, its length and frequency were appropriate.

The investigators reviewed 422 published studies, and found that 96 percent of older people experienced ageism. According to the new report, ageism led to poor outcomes in depression and physical health, including shorter life expectancy.

Ageism affects people regardless of age, sex, or race and ethnicity. Be it old, mid-age or the youth of today, no one is spared.

Half the world’s population is ageist against older people and, in Europe, the only region for which data is available on all age groups, younger people report more age discrimination than other age groups. Ageism can change how we view ourselves, can erode solidarity between generations, can devalue or limit our ability to benefit from what younger and older populations can contribute, and can impact our health, longevity and well-being while also having far-reaching economic consequences.

Ageism is everywhere: from our institutions and relationships to ourselves. In simpler words, ageism is in policies that support healthcare rationing by age, practices that limit younger people’s opportunities to contribute to decision-making in the workplace, patronizing behaviour used in interactions with older and younger people, and in self-limiting behaviour, which can stem from internalized stereotypes about what a person of a given age can be or do.

When you least expect it:

The effects of ageism go beyond just healthcare providers, with direct implications on the health of individuals who have ageist attitudes. While workplace ageism may be the most common form, sometimes grandchildren do assume their grandparents couldn’t possibly understand what’s going on in their world, and keep their conversations superficial, thinking it would be too hard to discuss details or explain the latest technology they’re using to the “old folks”.

Families may also underestimate their elders’ ability to live on their own and remain independent. “They put pressure on them to move to an apartment or assisted living,” where they can have things at their own "pace".

Younger people are always counted out of the decision-making bodies on the grounds of “They can’t decide what’s good or bad for themselves, how can they decide it for others?”

How do we overcome Ageism then?

1. Speak up: Don’t let ourselves be pushed around because we’re older. At family gatherings where there are people of all ages, we might be tempted to sit on the side-lines and watch, instead we should make an attempt to participate.

2. 2. Engage in the world: People who stay active — mentally and physically — can overcome ageism more easily.

3. Be as independent as you can: “There’s a concept of learned helplessness,”. If you assume that because you’re a certain age, you’re unable to do certain things, you won’t be able to do them.

4. Surround yourself with people of all ages: Yes, surrounding yourself with people of all ages can really help. It not only helps the young to learn from the experiences of their elderly but it also helps the old to understand today’s trends and technology.

Policy and law can address discrimination and inequality on the basis of age and protect the human rights of everyone, everywhere. Educational activities can enhance empathy, dispel misconceptions about different age groups and reduce prejudice by providing accurate information and counter-stereotypical examples. Intergenerational interventions, which bring together people of different generations, can help reduce intergroup prejudice and stereotypes.

“We’ve made so many advancements in other areas- Civil Rights, LGBTQ Rights- but Ageism is still a taboo. We as humans need to accept that- Ageism is as odious as Racism and Sexism.”


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