Report reveals negative views on growing older

Recent research has revealed that so-called millennials are the most likely to feel negative about growing older.

The report on ageism, published by The Royal Society for Public Health in partnership with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, found that many see the ageing process in a negative light, taking the view that it’s a period of decline.

It also showed that many see an element of inevitability in growing older, with 30% of those asked taking the view that being lonely is just something that happens in later life.

The report also showed that those aged between 18-34 felt the most negatively towards growing older, with around a quarter believing that growing unhappy or depressed is normal for older people.

Two-fifths of this demographic also feel that dementia is an unavoidable part of the ageing process.

The report highlighted the severity of these misconceptions, as well as the impact on general attitudes towards the older population. As ageism can manifest itself in someone from a relatively young age, it highlights the long-term effects of this on health, particularly as those with a less positive outlook on ageing have been seen to have shorter life expectancies.

Commenting on the findings of the report was Shirley Cramer CBE. The Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health said: “Too often ageist behaviour and language is trivialised, overlooked, or even served up as the punchline to a joke – something we would rightly not tolerate with other forms of prejudice. Our report shows that ageist attitudes abound in society and have a major impact on the public’s health, and yet they are rarely treated with the seriousness they deserve.

“With more people reaching older age than ever before, it is crucial to act now to promote positive integration across the generations. It is indeed encouraging that the majority of the public still believes that, fundamentally, the old and young have more in common than divides them. If we can begin to remove the stubborn barriers that reinforce societal ageism, we can expect many more to look forward to later life as a period of opportunity for growth and new experiences, rather than a set of mental and physical challenges.”

 

The report can be accessed here.

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