Negative attitudes towards ageing on the rise – report

Fears of ageing which are often fuelled by negative attitudes towards older people can lead to earlier death

According to new data reported by the United Nations health agency, the World Health Organisation (WHO), having fears of growing old may be the very thing that could shorten your life.

The data further highlighted that ageist attitudes all across the globe have become widely negative. The survey, which was a first-of-its-kind, reported that 60% of the 83 000 respondents from 57 different countries said that they believed older individuals were not respected.

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This was especially true in wealthier countries where “ageism is extremely common”. WHO’s head of Ageing and Life Course, John Beard, said that negative ageist attitudes had a much bigger impact than what one would assume, especially on individuals who haven’t necessarily aged yet.

“There is very good evidence that people who have negative views of themselves as they grow older… it shortens their lives,” Beard said in a statement to the press.

WHO also referred to research that found that individuals who held negative attitudes towards their own ageing tended not to recover well from disability and lived almost 7.5 years less than individuals who had positive attitudes.

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“Things which are no longer accepted if you were talking about someone on the basis of [their] race or sex are still tolerated when it comes down to their age… [attitudes about ageing are] on the level that racism and sexism were maybe 20, 30, 40 years ago,” Beard said.

An example of this can be seen in the workplace when a person who has reached the age of 65 is forced to go into retirement even if they are still quite fit to continue working, or when a 60-year-old person walks into a job interview and isn’t offered the job purely based on their age.

This is the type of discrimination that WHO has said is problematic.

Additional source: Times Live