Campaign launched to tackle ageism which charity says ‘scars lives’

Half of adults over 50 surveyed for a new anti-ageing campaign said they felt they had been treated with a lack of respect because of their age at some point in the past year.

The Centre for Ageing Better has launched an anti-ageism campaign across England in a bid to change the way people thinking about getting older and to tackle prejudices.

It comes after a parliamentary committee heard last week that ageism is a normalised and accepted form of discrimination which is widespread in the UK and can have a “hugely damaging” impact.

Leaders of organisations representing older people told MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee that there is a “structural problem” within Government which struggles to think about age and to take the issue of ageism seriously and that the issue came to the fore in the coronavirus pandemic, when people were “emboldened” to publicly express ageist views.

A survey of almost 2,000 people aged 18 and over by the National Centre for Social Research for the Centre for Ageing Better campaign found that more than a third of people (37%) aged in their 50s and 60s who had experienced discrimination because of their age in the past 12 months faced it most commonly in work.

For those aged 70 and above it was most keenly felt on social media television television, films or news reports (44%), but 29% had experienced it in health or social care settings.

Ageism was also felt in social situations, for just over a fifth (22%) of people in their 50s and 60s.

For people aged 70 and older, just under a quarter (23%) felt it on public transport.

The charity said the polling will be repeated throughout their three-year campaign to see how attitudes around age and ageing change over time.

The Age Without Limits campaign will feature advertising, PR and social media – and a quiz asking “Are You Ageist?” – in an effort to prompt debate and conversation about the issue of ageism, with the charity warning of the impact it can have on health, job prospects and the way people live their lives, with consequences for society and the economy.

Dr Carole Easton (pictured), chief executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Ageism is the prejudice that’s hidden in plain sight. We see and hear casual ageism every day, it’s embedded in our society and even accepted as normal by many of us who are older.

“Ageism scars lives. It is often dismissed as being harmless, but if you look at the research, or speak to people whose lives have been affected by ageism, you will soon realise ageist ideas or beliefs can be incredibly damaging for us as individuals and for wider society.

“That is why we are launching this campaign to get the nation thinking differently about ageing, for the benefit of us all as we grow older.”

– A total of 1,906 people aged 18 and over living in England took part in the survey, with the unweighted number of responses from people 50 and over being 1,435.

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