Ageism is discrimination that happens based on someone’s age and often is a consequence of the stereotypes we have of specific age groups. Ageism occurs the moment the process of aging stops being acknowledged as the natural process that it is.
Aging is a natural process that we are all going through at any given moment in time. The fear of aging, distancing oneself from those who are aging, can lead to biases that prevent optimal outcomes in just about any area you can think of, and lead to inequality.
The ugly truth about ageism
As quoted in an article by the Guardian, ageism is “a prejudice targeting our future selves” 1. It comes from decades of consumerism telling us to fight aging as a battle we can win. And to live in denial of the possibility that it might come with degenerative diseases, disabilities, loss of cognition, or suffering from loneliness.
Ageism can create alienation for older adults by stigmatizing the natural process of aging and lead to self-realizing negative consequences.
Cases of Ageism
Numerous cases can be witnessed daily where we see ageism prevailing. Despite being one of the most common problems across the globe, it is the least discussed and highlighted one2. Ageism is not talked about in the same terms like sexism, feminism, or racism. Very few initiatives and public policies are designed to overcome this bias.
Economic repercussions of workplace ageism
One significant instance of ageism is limited employment opportunities for older adults. Because of the rigid policies and age limits of retirement, older adults are robbed of employment opportunities, despite having the physical strength, mental stamina, and, most importantly, their desire to continue working3.
Many job ads define an age limit to pool their applicants, which is a direct instance of age discrimination4. This not only affects their lifestyles but also affects the country’s economy negatively.
It is a significant factor in obstructing the financial stability of older adults who haven’t been able to save up enough for retirement. Therefore, the opportunities must be kept open for those who are willing to work and have the ability to do it5.
Case-in-point: Oxford University
A Professor of English Literature at Oxford University, named Professor John Pitcher, received a notification in 2014 that he would retire on 30th September 2016, as he would turn 67 by then. The University sent the notice under the policy of “Employer Justified Retirement Age.” When Professor requested to be allowed to continue his service, his request was denied.
The Professor then made a claim that this retirement age policy and compulsion of terminating the service is unfair according to the Equality Act 20106. The final judgment made was still in favor of University, because we lack a general understanding of ageism, both at an individual as well as a policy level.
Ageism in healthcare
Another notable instance of ageism is observed in the healthcare sector, where numerous cases of elder neglect occur systematically in the very institutions that are meant to care for them. The nursing and care staff have been known to not provide the elderly with their fundamental rights. Sometimes because they are not educated and trained adequately on what these rights are7. According to an estimate, only 1 out of 24 cases of elder neglect in nursing homes, hospitals, and care homes are reported!
Let’s close the chapter on ageism
At Mon Tonton, we’re committed to promoting and enabling all our members to lead the lifestyles they want for as long as they wish.
The older generation is an asset to be cherished. We are doing our part in creating various opportunities and activities to keep our members engaged and fit, both physically and mentally.
Enough of sitting back and watching and silently criticizing the ‘system.’ Join Mon Tonton in our mission to fight against ageism. Let’s all do our part in changing the message of aging.
The New York Times, An Open Letter (and a Rant) on Age Discrimination at Work ↩
Silicon Republic, Are we adequately addressing age discrimination in the workplace? ↩