Racism, sexism, ageism…and the list is never ending. The present-day world witnesses more people living well into their 70s and 80s than the previous decades with advancements in medical care and science. We celebrate International Day of Older Persons on October 1st every year thanking them for their valuable contribution to the society and the positive impact they have created in each of our lives. This also gives us an opportunity to reflect on the complications and struggles of ageing in today’s world.
What is Ageism?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines ageism as the stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination towards people on the basis of age. It can also be termed as ‘age discrimination’ when someone treats you unfairly because of your age. Ageism cannot be curtailed to the older generation and it exists across the life-course with the perception that a person is too old or too young to do something.
Highly prevalent among societies, ageism is largely accepted and remains unchallenged (unlike racism or sexism) as people subconsciously accept it and move on. Media that includes movies, television, newspapers, popular music and social media play a strong role in projecting ageism and often shows older people on the darker side which can have a serious negative impact from the social perspective.
Such negativities can impact the person’s confidence, job, quality of life and economic situation too. The society cannot be 100% blamed for such unfavorable projections of old age as the individual himself/herself also thinks on the same terms as the society and stereotypes his/her possibilities of work and movement. Often, older people feel young, try to stay young and are personally ashamed to grow old or accept their limited skillset that exists with aging instead of feeling proud to age with grace and experience-but again, they cannot be completely blamed as the society too plays a major role in this!
Disadvantages of Ageism
Ageism is most dominant in the healthcare sector, shopping industry and even in most public places. Few of the most-prevalent ageism examples include:
Problems that Tag Along
Although age discrimination is not considered as serious as other forms of discrimination, it has the same economic, social and psychological impact as any other form of discrimination. Right to equality and human rights demands people to be treated as individuals depending on their merits instead of classifying them based on their age-specific ability, giving them equal opportunities and benefits similar to others in the society and include them in all events as much as possible. Individuals love their home and love to age in the comforts of their home rather than shifting to a community home. Few precautions that are given at www.firsteatright.com must be executed to help these people age safely and gracefully. Never curb someone from participating just because they are aged. Age is only a number. Sometimes, younger people feel stressed, unable to complete simple tasks or become physically inactive while some elderly people still are even smarter than before, fit as a fiddle and have the capability to solve any issue at hand. Age combined with other factors such as sex, race, ethnicity, color, religion, language and culture play a strong role in determining the effect of ageism on the individual. Every country should hold responsibility to cut short the ill effects of ageism and make the world a better place to live for people across all age groups.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.