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Lottie News > What is Ageism? | Tackling Myths Surrounding Ageism

What is Ageism? | Tackling Myths Surrounding Ageism

Older man working in a factory

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

The population across the UK has continued to age – and whilst living longer is something to be celebrated – new research has shown that ageism is becoming increasingly rife in communities.

Our new research – coupled with the latest ONS release around the voices from our ageing population – has identified the biggest misconceptions about ageism that urgently need to be challenged in society.

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In this article on ageism and age discrimination:

  1. What our research has found
  2. Why tackling ageism and elderly discrimination is important
  3. What is ageism?
  4. Examples of ageism
  5. The biggest ageism myths to tackle

Over the last 12 months, our new research has found a surge in people turning to Google for support after experiencing age discrimination:

Search Term How Much More Are People Searching For It?
’Discrimination against elderly’ + 700%
’Discrimination against old people’ + 400%
’Age discrimination pay’ + 300%

Why Tackling Ageism and Elderly Discrimination Is Important

Ageism can have a serious impact on people’s health and wellbeing, leading to feelings of isolation, anxiety and an increased risk of experiencing discriminatory treatment.

Shockingly, our new research has found a 700% increase over the last 12 months on Google for searches around ‘discrimination against elderly’.

Previous research has found negative stereotypes associated with older people: including loneliness, dependence, poor health and being socially isolated. These stereotypes are nothing but harmful and leave the older generations at risk of discrimination, which is becoming an increasingly bigger problem in society.

With people living longer, making society a positive, safe, and accessible space – especially with the crises we’re all facing right now with the cost of living – is more important than ever before.

Raising awareness of the biggest myths about the older population is a great step in removing these from society. Sharing the incredible stories, shared experiences, and contributions to society that the older generations have every day is essential.

Similarly, the latest ONS research about our ageing population has echoed our findings – sharing that older people don’t all neatly fit into stereotypes and convenient boxes – and later life is diverse and complex.

What Is Ageism?

Ageism is where you're treated differently because of your age. Often, people will talk to you in a condescending and more negative way than they otherwise would do. They may also act in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. Experiencing ageism can have a negative effect on your confidence and general mood, both in the workplace and in your day-to-day life.

In the workplace, a common example of ageism is losing a job directly because of your age. Outside of work, you could be refused membership to a club or similar social setting as a result of being seen as too old.

The Five Biggest Ageism Myths to Tackle

1. Older people aren’t suited to the workplace

Several ageist myths at work can lead to discrimination, including misconceptions about how productive, healthy, and technologically focused older workers are in the workplace. In reality, there are a tonne of benefits to an older workforce, including experience, skill and providing training for the younger generations.

‘Unretirement’ is quickly becoming a global phenomenon. The number of older workers in the workforce is steadily increasing - with many of those who previously retired from work returning to the workplace.

Online searches over the last 12 months from older people searching for post-retirement work have surged, including a 200% increase for ‘part time jobs for retired professionals’ and a 100% increase for ‘jobs for retired persons'.

Older women at work

2. You can’t learn anything new when you’re old

Over the last 12 months, more people than ever before are turning to Google to check if they're 'too old' for new skills, including a 300% increase in online searches on Google for 'am I too old to learn guitar' and a 50% increase in online searches on Google for 'am I too old to change careers'.

Our brains have an astonishing ability to learn and master many new skills – and it’s unfortunately societal pressure that tends to hold anyone back that’s interested in learning something new. There are many courses across the UK for everyone to try, including classes on languages, cookery, jewellery making and family history.

No matter how old you are, if you attend any new classes or enjoy a particular hobby, make sure everyone feels welcome.

3. Different generations can’t be friends

More people than ever before are becoming aware of the benefits of socialising with different generations - with a 33% surge in online searches for ‘intergenerational relationships’ over the last 12 months.

Here are some wonderful stories of friendships across different ages – and the positive impact it has on all generations:

Angela (54) has a strong friendship with Derek (76) and has shared how their intergenerational friendship has positively impacted her wellbeing:

“I met my friend Derek in 2010 at our local park run. We meet every Saturday and enjoy a cake and catch up afterwards. We have a 22-year age difference - Derek is 76 and I’m 54.

We share a love of running, especially park run as it is so inclusive. Derek is an amazing runner and ran the London 2022 marathon. We share interests, have fun, and talk about running mainly.

I was honoured to be invited to Derek’s 70th birthday party. We have a great friendship, he inspires me, he is young at heart and always cheerful.”

Erin (27) and Glenn (77) formed a friendship over their shared love of music and have shared how their friendship has blossomed over the years:

“Glenn and I met when I was working in a bike shop that was adjacent to his apartment in Valencia. We then spoke about music and his love for 60s rock and roll over the counter in the bike shop. Glenn told me that Bob Dylan was coming to town to play live in Valencia’s famous bullring in the centre of town and asked if I’d like to go with him. Spontaneity is key to the interesting events in our life so “why not!”, I said. I was 23 when we met, and Glenn was 73.

I’ve learnt a lot of things through chatting with Glenn. How life is really what you make of it and you’re never too old for an adventure. I think intergenerational relationships give you a real insight into life and what’s actually important. The things that appear so huge right now will merely be a “remember that time” in a few years. Obviously, everything is relevant to your stage in life, but being friends with an elderly person, you learn to value the things that last in your life like good friends, loving relationships, and great memories.”

4. Retirees need to take it easy

One of the biggest misconceptions as you age is that you need to take it easy and avoid exercising or anything else too strenuous.

The opposite is actually true, and you run the risk of health issues as you get older if you don’t prioritise leading a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and prioritising your wellbeing.

Over the last 12 months, there’s been a 100% increase in online searches for ‘retirement activities near me’, ‘winter hobbies for retirees’ and ‘retired couple activities’ – showing a huge increase in the older generations prioritising their health and wellbeing in fun and unique ways.

5. You’ll feel lonely and isolated when you’re older

As people age, some may find themselves feeling isolated and alone. This isn’t a ‘normal’ part of ageing and as a society, we must create an accessible, safe and inclusive community to improve socialisation among generations.

Fortunately, we’ve seen a positive surge in searches from people finding new social communities – both online and local – to try; including a 180% increase over the last 12 months for ‘women’s social groups near me’, a 100% increase for ‘online community forums’ and a 50% increase for ‘social groups for 30 year olds near me’.

We have an article dedicated to social groups for over 50s.

Age Discrimination is On The Rise

Data Sources

*Internal analysis from Google Keyword Planner over the last 12 months – the full data set is available on request.

We’re on a mission to support individuals and their loved ones throughout each stage of their later living journey. For more information, check out everything Lottie has to offer.

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