COVID-19 has affected people of all ages, in different ways. But beyond the impacts of the virus itself, some of the narratives about different age groups have exposed a deep and older malady: ageism. Older people have been often seen as uniformly frail and vulnerable, while younger people have been portrayed as invincible, or as reckless and irresponsible. Stereotyping (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) based on age, are not new; COVID-19 has amplified these harmful attitudes.
This global report on ageism could not be timelier. Its main message is that we can and must prevent ageism and that even small shifts in how we think, feel and act towards age and ageing will reap benefits for individuals and societies.
This report shows that ageism is prevalent, ubiquitous and insidious because it goes largely unrecognised and unchallenged. Ageism has serious and far-reaching consequences for people’s health, well-being and human rights and costs society billions of dollars. Among older people, ageism is associated with poorer physical and mental health, increased social isolation and loneliness, greater financial insecurity and decreased quality of life and premature death. Ageism, in younger people has been less well explored in the literature but reported by younger people in a range of areas including employment, health and housing. Across the life course, ageism interacts with ableism, sexism and racism compounding disadvantage.