A new report highlights the impact of ageist attitudes on older workers.
Older workers are seen as having lower levels of performance, less ability to learn, and being more costly than younger workers, according to a new report which highlights how negative attitudes to ageing damage older people.
The report, Doddery but dear?, by the Centre for Ageing Better, reviewed all existing research on attitudes to ageing and found that the UK’s attitudes to ageing are overwhelmingly negative, with older people subject to a host of damaging stereotypes.
In health and social care, the review found that stereotypes are even more negative, with attitudes focusing on death and physical decline, and ageing seen as a process of increasingly bad health.
The report says the media is a key driver of negative attitudes, representing ageing as a crisis or a societal burden, with the ageing population described using metaphors like “grey tsunami”, “demographic cliff” and “demographic timebomb”. Often, older people are depicted as “villains”, it says, unfairly consuming too many of society’s resources.
These attitudes, the study found, can affect some groups more, with women and people from black and minority ethnic groups facing a “double jeopardy” of discrimination as they get older.
Ageing Better is calling for a “fundamental culture shift” to overturn what it calls an “ingrained culture” of “pity and dislike” towards older people.
Anna Dixon, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Ageism, like any other form of prejudice, has a profound effect on our self-esteem, our wellbeing and the way we experience day-to-day life. Our new research shows that in spite of the progress we’ve made towards challenging discrimination in Britain, we still have an ingrained culture of pity, dislike and disassociation towards older people.
“Most of us are living many years longer than previous generations and this is a gift to be celebrated. But the outdated and harmful attitudes laid bare in this research are preventing too many people from making the most of those extra years.
“Ageism is deeply damaging, and yet all too often it isn’t taken as seriously as other forms of prejudice or discrimination. Britain is long overdue a fundamental culture shift to overturn these attitudes, and the media needs to reflect the diverse experiences of people in later life.”
*The Centre for Ageing Better is holding a free interactive webinar on the report on Monday from 3-3.45pm. The webinar will be a chance to hear about the review’s key findings and Ageing Better’s new project, which explores how age and ageing is discussed and represented across society. Speakers include Dr Hannah J Swift, School of Psychology, the University of Kent, author of the report, and Emma Twyning, Head of Communications, the Centre for Ageing Better. Click here for more details.