Nearly all (93 percent) older adults experience some form of ageism every day — from hearing jokes about older people to dealing with assumptions that certain things aren’t easily understood or remembered because of their age — according to a new study that pulled data from the AARP-sponsored University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging. Women and people with lower incomes and educational attainment were found to experience higher degrees of ageism than their peers.
The study, published Wednesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at the responses of more than 2,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 50 and 80 when asked about aging and age-based discrimination. It found that almost all older adults experience some form of ageism or discrimination on a daily basis. Among its findings:
- Nearly two-thirds (65.2 percent) reported regularly seeing or hearing jokes about older people or hearing that people who are aging are unattractive or undesirable.
- Nearly half (45 percent) said they regularly experience ageism in personal interactions, with some saying people they interact with assume they struggle with technology or have a tough time remembering or understanding things.
- Women, people with lower incomes and educational attainment, and people who report worse physical or mental health experience higher degrees of ageism — as do people between the ages of 65 and 80, compared with people between the ages of 50 and 64.
- Nearly 80 percent of respondents identified with an internalized form of ageism, agreeing with the idea that having health problems is part of getting older. Roughly 30 percent said feeling lonely is part of getting older.
The study is the latest evidence of widespread ageism and age discrimination. Nearly 8 in 10 respondents between the ages oof 40 and 65 in a recent AARP survey said they have either seen or personally experienced age discrimination in the workplace, which is the highest percentage we’ve seen since we started polling older adults about it in 2003.
Read more about the study, and learn about how AARP is fighting age discrimination.
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