Building an Age Inclusive Society

Building an Age Inclusive Society

Do we treat seniors differently? If so, that’s ageism or age discrimination. What about treating senior women differently than senior men? We may not realize it’s happening but research shows that women over age 66 are more likely to be treated differently due to their age than men of the same age group.

The Revera report on ageism shows that older women face more discrimination than older men including being treated unfairly, sometimes even as though they are invisible. But despite these findings older women have a sunnier disposition and a more positive attitude in general when it comes to aging than their male counterparts.

What is ageism all about?

Ageism is discriminating or making a judgment based upon the age of the person or group of people. When Robert Neil Butler coined the term ‘ageism’ in 1969 it was to describe prejudices, negative and discriminatory attitudes against seniors and it is also used to stereotype young people. In discussing ageism as it relates to senior adults, the negative impacts include robbing seniors of choice, dignity and even of their independence.

Ageism in Canada

We have the tendency to forget that seniors are individuals with interesting lives and stories to tell. They are older versions of the active, hard-working men and women that built the country whose freedoms and benefits we all enjoy. Not only do we overlook individuality but society takes it a step further to the point that the women and the men feel discrimination differently. The Revera report finds:     

  • 68 percent of women vs. 57 percent of men over age 66, report being treated differently or unfairly because of their age.
  • 46 percent of women vs. only 32 percent of men report being ignored or treated as though they were invisible.
  • 32 percent of women vs. 18 percent of men have been assumed to be incompetent.

Gerontologist Dr. Amy D’Aprix discusses the complex issues of ageism stating that in addition to age discrimination we need to be aware that older women may also be experiencing sexism.

Despite these findings, when women age 66 and up were asked to rate their overall outlook on getting older, these were the results:

  • 61 percent of women vs. 53 percent of men reported being optimistic.
  • 47 percent of women vs. 33 percent of men agree with the statement age is just a number.
  • 75 percent of women vs. 63 percent of men associate aging with positives such as becoming wiser, more self assured, happier and a better version of oneself.

The key to aging with optimism

Why are women more positive about aging than men? While women 66 and up feel the deepest impact of ageism they are the most optimistic about aging! One of the biggest reasons for their optimism and positive attitude appears to be strong social ties.

Beginning as little girls, through adolescence and into adulthood, women tend to surround themselves with family and friends for support. They interact socially and are more connected than boys and men who are less likely to be socially connected to the same extent.

The Revera report shows that 86 percent of women vs. 72 percent of men over age 75 agree that social interaction is an important aspect of aging.

Remaining socially active regardless of age helps us stay positive and live a fulfilling life. Dr. D’Aprix confirms that the positive power of social interaction impacts both our physical and emotional health. The Revera report serves to remind us that the social aspects of daily life should be as important as getting enough sleep and exercise.    

Working toward an age inclusive Canada

Trish Barbato, Senior Vice President, Home Health & Business Development at Revera Inc. reminds us that senior men and women are individuals with unique and interesting life experiences. We need to recognize the needs and their differences, and treat all people with respect. Once we do, we will be a step closer to building an age inclusive Canada.

Written by Alice Lucette

Source: Age is More

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