As per statistics, there are 600 million people who are 60 and older in the world and the number is expected to double by 2025. While medical science has advanced and is majorly contributing towards extending lifespan, it is sad that not much has been done to study the society’s attitude about old age and the process of aging in general. It comes as no surprise that ageism is the most common form of prejudice.
However, the existence of ageism is a hard topic to study. A recent study found that studies conducted on ageist beliefs have had contradictory results. While all biases were not fully negative, and people did mention that they give seats or hold door for people because of age, that did not completely negate the assumptions as well as stereotypes associated with it. While ageism is believed to be the most common form of prejudice, most people don’t realise its prevalence and impact, shared Donna Wilson, who conducted a study on ageism.
You may behave nice with old people but the effects of ageing are not so pleasant. A survey conducted in 2001 revealed that 77 per cent of older people faced ageist behavior, which included telling ageist jokes or being undermined by doctors. Interestingly, the study also went on to say that youngsters who had negative views about ageism, ended up growing into old people with negative views about themselves, thus, taking a toll on their lives.
While work is being done to normalise aging and ageism, it is time to reframe some questions. The single most important thing to do is to question the society’s perception of old age, their ageist beliefs. While most people will assume that telling a 60-year-old they are looking young is a compliment or that they look great despite their age – all these comments imply that looking old is bad. A lot of times even doctors end up telling people that some of their health issues are due to their age – which if you see doesn’t entirely make sense. Discounting someone’s health issue is a real problem.