Monday, March 20, 2017

Ageism in Canada

According to our Senior Advocate, "Ageism is one of the most pervasive forms of discrimination — and a lot of people are guilty of it. 

The following is from a report from Revera on Agism (pdf file) in Canada.  Despite an aging population, ageism is widespread in Canada. It is the most tolerated form of social prejudice when compared to gender– or race-based discrimination.
      Six-in-ten (63%) seniors 66 years of age and older say they have been treated unfairly or differently because of their age
      One-in-three (35%) Canadians admit they have treated someone differently because of their age; this statistic goes as high as 43% for Gen X and 42% for Gen Y
      Half (51%) of Canadians say ageism is the most tolerated social prejudice when compared to gender- or race-based discrimination
      Eight-in-ten (79%) Canadians agree that seniors 75 and older are seen as less important and are more often ignored than younger generations in society
      Seven-in-ten (71%) agree that Canadian society values younger generations more than older generations • One-in-five (21%) Canadians say older Canadians are a burden on society

Ageism does not discriminate. It comes in many forms and from many different sources.

• Age discrimination towards seniors 66 and older comes primarily from younger people (56%). More than one-in-four (27%) seniors say they’ve experienced age discrimination from government and more than one-third (34%) from healthcare professionals and the healthcare system
      Nearly nine-in-ten seniors 66 and older who encountered ageism from the government, attribute it to programs and policies that do not take into account the needs of older people
      Nearly eight-in-ten seniors 66 and older who reported age discrimination in healthcare, said a healthcare professional had dismissed their complaints as an inevitable sign of aging
      The three most common forms of age discrimination faced by Canadian seniors include:
§  being ignored or treated as though they are invisible (41%)
§  being treated like they have nothing to contribute (38%)
§  assuming that they are incompetent (27%)It’s clear that if we don’t address ageism as a societal issue now,

It will compound and become more entrenched as our population ages. Change however, won’t happen overnight, and it is not the exclusive responsibility of any one group. In collaboration and consultation with older people, individuals, organizations and policy makers all have a role to play in building an age-inclusive society. As individuals and as a society, we must shine a light on the issue of ageism. 

We need to recognize, call out and challenge the negative stereotypes and assumptions about aging and older people. Rather than make assumptions about an individual’s abilities or quality of life based on their age, we need to be open-minded, view aging with optimism and reach out to older adults as vibrant, important and valued contributors to society.

Organizations need to raise awareness of ageism and be active contributors to ending it. As employers, the value and significant contributions older workers can and do make should not be overlooked.

We also need to better understand and meet the diverse needs of older consumers – after all, they encompass a broad age range, and the needs of a 65-year-old may be quite different to those of an 85-year-old. Policy makers, both government and non-governmental agencies, need to collaborate and plan for an age-inclusive Canada.

Building on the work that governments are already doing, there needs to be continued focus on developing policies that enable people of all ages to have the choices they need to live their lives to the fullest. Canadians overall have a negative perception of aging.

      89 per cent of Canadians associate aging with something negative like not being able to get around easily, losing independence or being alone
      Gen Y and Gen X are the most likely to hold a negative perception of aging; they are the least likely to think people 75 and older are pleasant, independent or healthy, yet the most likely to describe them as grumpy. A further one-in-three describe them as dependent, sick or frail

Finally, the older you get, the more optimistic you are about aging.

      While the majority of seniors 66 and older are optimistic about aging, the opposite is true of younger generations, specifically Gen Y’s and Gen X’s
      Canadians 66 and older are the most likely to associate aging with something positive like having more time to do things they love and more time to spend with those they care about, as well as being wiser and more self-assured

      Seniors 66 and older are the most likely to say “age is just a number” (41%) and approximately two-in-five say “you never stop living life to the fullest” (36%) and “the best is yet to come” (40%)

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