According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2021), “ageism refers to the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age.”

Ageism affects everyone at any age; however, older adults and seniors are particularly vulnerable to experiencing the negative implications of ageism.  Ageism affects how we view others and how we view ourselves, and “can erode solidarity between generations, can devalue or limit our ability to benefit from what younger and older populations can contribute, and can impact our health, longevity and well-being while also having far-reaching economic consequences.  For example, ageism is associated with earlier death (by 7.5 years), poorer physical and mental health, and slower recovery from disability in older age” (WHO, 2021).

Furthermore, Seniors First BC (2021) asserts that ageist attitudes affect the health care seniors receive, which leads to:

  • Absence of services for older adults
  • Focus on acute care and cure rather than chronic care
  • Age based decision-making in health (“age rationing”)
  • Making decisions about the quality of older people’s lives
  • Paternalism
  • Omission from clinical trials
  • Less treatment for mental health issues
  • Forced decisions
  • Also gender bias – more radical mastectomies, less reconstructive surgery
  • Over medication of older adult

Other Web Links