1 in 4 over-50s say they are vic­tims of ageism

Daily Mail - - Life - By Kate Pick­les Health Cor­re­spon­dent

MORE than a quar­ter of over-50s say they have faced dis­crim­i­na­tion be­cause of their age, a study found.

Vic­tims re­ported be­ing un­fairly treated in stores, restau­rants and hos­pi­tals and looked down on be­cause they were older.

Ageism also ap­peared to be linked to poorer health among those it af­fected, ac­cord­ing to the find­ings from the English Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Study of Age­ing.

The sur­vey fol­lowed more than 7,500 peo­ple aged over 50 for six years in the first ma­jor study to ex­am­ine the as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween ageism and health and well-be­ing.

A to­tal of 1,943 of the re­spon­dents said they had been af­fected by age dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Par­tic­i­pants were asked to re­spond to state­ments such as ‘you are treated with less re­spect or cour­tesy’, ‘you re­ceive poorer ser­vice than other peo­ple in restau­rants and stores’, and ‘you re­ceive poorer ser­vice or treat­ment than other peo­ple from doc­tors or hos­pi­tals’. They were also ques­tioned about their ex­pe­ri­ences of be­ing thought ‘not clever’ or be­ing threat­ened or ha­rassed.

Those who re­ported dis­crim­i­na­tion were more likely to rate their health as ‘fair or poor’ than those who had not en­coun­tered ageism.

The group were also more likely to suf­fer from de­pres­sive symp­toms or de­bil­i­tat­ing long-term ill­nesses, and to go on to de­velop se­ri­ous con­di­tions such as di­a­betes or heart disease.

Writ­ing in The Lancet Pub­lic Health jour­nal, the au­thors say peo­ple may use un­healthy be­hav­iour – such as smok­ing, drink­ing, poor diet or phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity – to cope with ex­pe­ri­ences of age dis­crim­i­na­tion. Dr Sarah Jack­son from Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don, who led the study, said: ‘We need to in­crease pub­lic aware­ness of what con­sti­tutes ageism and how it can af­fect health and well-be­ing so we can build col­lec­tive move­ments, like those that brought about leg­isla­tive and so­cial change for other forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion.’

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