The evidence shows the negative impacts of ageism not only limit the potential opportunity for older Australians to participate fully in the community, but also significantly impacts their overall health and wellbeing.
Ageist attitudes are seen across ages and are not limited to younger people, but “may be “internalised and reinforced across the lifespan developing into beliefs about, expectations for, and self-perception’s of, one’s own ageing process” (Sargent-Cox, 2017).” They can be a self-fulfilling prophecy with people expecting to be incapable and therefore becoming so.
“Research with older people found that participants: “reflected an internalisation and acceptance of ageist stereotypes and prejudices through their perceptions of what ‘being old’ was… including: not trying, withdrawn, isolated, irritating, self-oriented, living outside the mainstream, unattractive, uninteresting, frail, senile, silly, over the hill, narrow-minded, a burden, lonely, vulnerable, dowdy, and unproductive” (Minichiello et al., 2000 p. 259)”
Changing the perception of ageing and addressing ageism will have a positive impact economically, socially and on the health and wellbeing of a significant portion of our population, including our future selves.
The World Health Organisation says –
“Tackling ageism will require a new understanding of ageing by all generations. This understanding needs to counter outdated concepts of older people as burdens and acknowledge the wide diversity of the experience of older age, the inequities of ageism, and demonstrate a willingness to ask how society might organise itself better. Actions that may help tackle ageism include:
- Undertaking communication campaigns to increase knowledge about and understanding of ageing among the media, general public, policy makers, employers and service providers; Legislating against age-based discrimination;
- Ensuring that a balanced view of ageing is presented in the media”
The Pingelly Somerset Alliance (PSA) proposes to undertake community campaigns and work to change the attitude of people within the Pingelly community, as a step toward reducing ageism. EveryAGE Counts is a campaign to tackle ageism faced by older Australians.