A quarter of older people in England say they have recently faced ageism, researchers have revealed in a study suggesting discrimination could be taking a toll on their health.
Experts say that with the older population growing, it is important to understand the impact of such negative behaviour, and find ways to tackle discrimination and its effects to help people stay healthy as they age.
“This is a substantial issue that seems to have quite a significant impact on health and wellbeing. So it is really a call for action for strategies,” said Dr Sarah Jackson from University College London, the lead author of the study.
Others said issues such as Brexit and housing pressures have contributed to ageism by pitting “millennials” against “baby boomers” even though many older people also experience financial and social disadvantages.
“We need to challenge these views that older people are perfectly fine and they’ve stolen off the younger generation,” said Martin McKee, a professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was not involved in the study.
Writing in the journal Lancet Public Health, Jackson and colleagues report how they analysed data from a pre-existing study into ageing in England. The researchers looked at the responses of more than 7,700 participants aged 50 or older to questions about how often they felt they had experienced five scenarios of discrimination and whether they thought age was a factor, as well as self-reports of their health.
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