Ageism: The Issue

Ageism is a social attitude. It is way of looking at older people that stereotypes them, just as people of particular races are stereotyped as being “smart”, “industrious”, “thrifty”, “lazy”, or “easy going” or when men and women are stereotyped as being “strong”, “nurturing” or “sensitive” because of their gender.

Ageism is also part of attitudes where people believe that older adults can be treated in demeaning ways. Many people note that as they grow older and as they reach certain age milestones, (age 65 being one of them), others begin to treat them differently. Their attitudes change. In many cases, being treated differently means being treated as “less”— less valued, less capable etc. Or they are stereotyped. That is ageism. Ageism is also reflected when younger persons implicitly or explicitly act as if they are more entitled to family or social resources than older adults are.

Retrieved March 2009 from the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse

The Mental Health Strategy for Canada (2012) “Recommendations for Actions”:

  • Counter the impact of age discrimination on mental health
  • Help older adults to participate in meaningful activies, sustain relationships and maintain good physical health, and
  • Increase the capacity of older adults, their families, and those who work with them to identify mental illness, dementia, elder abuse, and risk of suicide, and intervene early when problems first emerge.