ageism-innerpage

Ageism is the complex and usually negative social construction of old age.
A recent study based on the European Social Survey (The Everyday Ageism Project, www.eurage.com) found that ageism is the most prevalent type of discrimination reported by almost 35% of all participants over the age of 18. Ageism takes place at both the structural and individual levels and is present in many different contexts (e.g., the workplace, health care, media etc.).

There is ample evidence concerning the negative effects of ageism in all spheres of life. Ageism takes place at the structural-societal level, the family level and the individual level and is present in many different contexts. Ageism reinforces social inequality as it is more pronounced towards older women, poor people, or those with dementia. Moreover, self-directed ageism is a risk for both morbidity and mortality.

Categorization is a useful mechanism aimed to assist individuals to deal with the huge amounts of information in the world (Bruner, 1957). One method of categorization is prejudice or discrimination. Prejudice is defined as either positive or negative attitudes towards members of a group solely because of their group membership. Discrimination represents the positive or negative acts towards the objects of prejudice. According to the social identity theory, When group identity is devalued, as in the case of older adults, individuals actively engage in dissociating themselves from the de-valued group ( Tajfel & Turner, 1986). Greenberg’s terror management theory attributes ageism to the human desire to dissociate from any reminder of our inevitable personal death. That is, people tend to dissociate from and even dislike individuals or groups that elicit such death fears (Greenberg, Schimel, & Mertens, 2004). In our society, people tend to associate old age with death. Therefore, being physically close to older adults or even thinking about them tends to evoke death anxiety. Spatial separation between young and old is another potential cause of ageism, as most of us interact mainly with our age group. Living in an age homogenous society provides us with very limited opportunities to learn about other age groups, understand them and eventually like them (Hagestad & Peter Uhlenberg, 2015)
Although research with regard to effective anti-ageist interventions may be limited, we know from other fields about potentially effective interventions. These may include: a) raising public awareness and sensitizing civil society. This is a core idea behind the COST Action; b) enacting and enforcing laws. Here, Action members could examine whether existing European and national anti-discrimination initiatives address the issue of age discrimination; and c) correcting false beliefs (e.g., educating healthcare professionals that certain processes are due to illness and not to ageing per se). WGs will review evidence based interventions that target the negative aspects of ageism or promote compensatory means to address the challenges imposed by ageism. The cross-national, multidisciplinary perspective employed by members will result in a comparison of local interventions in order to identify ‘state-of-the-art’ and “best practice” interventions. The primary goal will be to develop reference points and recommendations for fields of action aiming at reducing ageism.
Bringing the topic of ageism to awareness and increasing societal interest and understanding of the phenomenon and its negative consequences is our main goal.
Coming up soon.