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Ageism – A Rising Issue Plaguing Canada

April 22, 2014

Discrimination of people in old age is a problem that is continues to rise. In 1960s, Robert Butler created the term “Ageism,” which he defined as a process where people were systematically stereotyped and discriminated against because they were old. This discrimination was on the basis that older people are more old-fashioned, rigid and senile. A common case of ageism may be exemplified by young people treating older people differently and not identifying with them as equal individuals.A comprehensive study on the increase in ageism was first published by Wendy Taormina-Weiss in 2012. This study was focused in the U.S. where the population of people above the age of 60 is growing rapidly, giving way to more ageism and discrimination. She discovered that ageism was being practiced at several workplaces and sectors where policies and beliefs supporting this viewpoint were openly a part of organizational agendas. However, America is not the only country dealing with the issue of increasing ageism.

According to a publication of CTV News, a 2012 survey was carried out in Canada sought to capture statistics on ageism. This survey concluded that senior citizens in Canada were looked down upon and ageism was becoming the most tolerated type of discrimination to occur in social context. Of the 1,500 people who took part in the survey, eight out of 10 Canadians believed people older than 75 years were less important than younger people. Six out of 10 senior citizens (older than 66) believed that they were treated unfairly on the basis of their age.

In total, 35 per cent of Canadians admitted that at some point in time, they have treated people differently and unfairly just because they were older. The way in which they were treated unfairly was largely divided into three categories. In 41 per cent of cases, older citizens were treated as if they were invisible and were completely ignored. In 38 per cent of cases, they were made to believe that they have nothing productive to contribute. In 27 per cent of cases, senior citizens were assumed to be incompetent at certain tasks or skills. Since the population of older citizens is also on the rise in Canada, ageism is expected to grow.

Photo by Rosie OBeirne e1312288492331 300x211 Ageism A Rising Issue Plaguing Canada

By 2050, it is expected that one in four Canadians will be a senior citizen, which means that changing the behaviour and outlook of people towards ageism is extremely important. Just like racism and sexism, ageism is an abhorred social prejudice that is spreading worldwide. In most cases, younger people associate negative outcomes with older age, like lack of independence and loneliness while older people have more positive views about their upcoming years. According to the survey, more than 40 percent of elders who are above the age of 66 in Canada believe that the best is yet to come.

According to the author of this survey report, the possible solution of ageism is treating it as a societal problem instead of an individual problem. To reduce ageism, people need to challenge their assumptions regarding older age and recognize that these seniors have contributed a lot to society. It is also important to remember that everyone is going to be a senior at some point. It is worthwhile to make conscious efforts to shift the aging experience for the better.

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