The Definition of Ageism

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Ageism is discrimination against people based on their age. Many people, both young and old, face ageism in the workplace or in health care, which creates inequalities or limits opportunities.


What Is Ageism?

Ageism is a type of discrimination in which a person is prejudiced because of their age. Whether a person is young or old, they can face age discrimination. As people get older, they may encounter negative stereotypes that affect their well-being and quality of life. This is known as ageism. Similarly, younger people may face stereotypes, such as others believing they lack life experience due to their age. To describe this type of discrimination in the workplace, public health care systems, and elsewhere, gerontologist Robert N. Butler coined the term "ageism."


3 Examples of Ageism

Ageism can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples:

1. Arguing that an older person is acting too young: Young people may believe that older age groups are acting too young or stealing their identity. Some ageist viewpoints hold that older people should act their age.

2. Having your leadership abilities called into question due to your age: Great leaders can come from any age group. However, some people believe that younger people lack the experience needed to lead others.

3. Expecting older generations to step down: Some younger people believe that older generations have served their purpose and should make way for others. These ageist attitudes may make older adults feel unwelcome.


Prevalence of Ageism

Ageism is a widespread problem that creates inequalities in society for both younger and older adults. Ageism has been formally declared a serious human rights violation that requires intervention by the American Psychological Association.


Impact of Ageism

Age discrimination, like sexism or racism, affects people everywhere. Ageism affects both younger and older demographics in a variety of ways. Ageism can have a negative impact on:

Economic health: Older workers may face ageism, which makes it more difficult for them to find work and support themselves. Younger workers may also encounter employers who are prejudiced against them because of their age. They may, for example, believe they are not accountable.

Physical health: Some elderly patients face age discrimination from health-care providers. Because they do not receive the appropriate treatment for their health conditions, age stereotypes may prevent them from experiencing healthy aging.

Mental health: Age discrimination can have an impact on both young and old people's mental health. If they have received unfair treatment because of their age, they may feel inadequate or depressed.

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