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Will 2024 see the turning of the tide against ageism?

Published on 09 February 2024 04:40 PM

At the Centre for Ageing Better, we knew what our New Year’s resolution would be - to see the beginning of the end for ageism, for the benefit of all of us as we grow older.

It is the prejudice hiding in plain sight that is almost never called out and challenged.

In 2024, we need this to change.  
We launched the country’s first anti-ageism campaign, Age Without Limits, in January because too many people experience age discrimination.

Our recent campaign survey reveals that half of people aged between 51 and 70 in London felt they had been treated with a lack of respect because of their age at least once in the last year.
This is likely to be the tip of the iceberg. 

Ageism is so embedded in our society that many of us neither recognise it when it’s directed towards us, nor acknowledge that we may be inadvertently contributing to the problem. 

We see and hear casual ageism everywhere from the media, to TV, to everyday conversations with family and friends. You might be forgiven for thinking: “it’s just lighthearted banter, what’s the harm?”.

But research shows that ageist beliefs can be incredibly damaging for us as individuals and for wider society, as our Ageism: What’s the harm? report details. 

Ageism affects how we talk to older people and how we talk about them, how older people are treated in the workplace, in our communities, and even the healthcare that older people receive.

Ageism also affects how we think about ourselves. We put limits on ourselves and that stops us from trying new things and living as full a life as possible.  
And it changes our outlook of what we expect from later life, meaning we often accept pain and suffering as inevitable in the ageing process rather than seeking out solutions.  

So how can we make our New Year’s resolution stick?  
To overcome such deeply entrenched societal attitudes requires a mass movement.

That is why we’ve launched our campaign with widespread advertising and media coverage to reach a high volume of people.

You may have seen our Are You Ageist? adverts around London including at 30 Tube stations and a similar number of railway stations in the capital.

We’re asking people to take a moment to consider if they hold any ageist beliefs or attitudes.  

While around one in three people admit to holding ageist beliefs, in reality the number is likely to be far higher.

Most people are unlikely to be holding such beliefs maliciously; usually they are held without us even realising.  
By taking time to consider our own thinking around ageing, we may come to realise how some things we say could negatively impact people we know, impact our own approach to later life or contribute to the ageist society we currently live in.  
When we begin to reassess our own ageism, we can drive the change we want to see in society.  

The next major opportunity for everyone to get involved with the campaign will be the Age Without Limits Action Day on March 20. Scores of events will be held across the country to mark the day and challenge the negative way older people are represented in society. We want to encourage everyone to “See and Be Seen” and celebrate the diversity of ageing. 

We’d love as many people as possible to join us and we’ve created some free downloadable resources to get you started.

Events will include our own Challenging Ageism: See and Be Seen exhibition, supported by Age UK, at Pop 1, The Now Building, near Tottenham Court Road Underground Station, which runs next month from Wednesday 20 to Saturday 23.

Other events in London include an older persons’ fashion show at Tonic Housing, the UK’s first LGBT+ retirement home, and a positive ageing talent show organised by the Blackfriars Settlement.  

To help combat ageism, we also want to see employers recognise the value of older workers and take action to help them flourish in a multigenerational workforce.

Signing the Centre for Ageing Better’s Age-friendly Employer Pledge will help guide employers.  

More than 300 businesses and organisations nationwide have already done so in just over a year of the programme launching, including around 50 in London.
And government has an example to set in showing that it does not tolerate ageist attitudes and that it is preparing adequately for our growing ageing population.

Creating a Commissioner for Older People and Ageing in England would be an important first step to achieving this and you can register your support for the creation of this role here.  
We hope millions of us will see 2024 as a watershed moment – a time to reflect on our attitudes and actions towards ageing because let’s face it, ageism is a prejudice against our future selves.    

To start your journey, please take the Are You Ageist? quiz at   

You can also find more details on Action Day events happening in your area on the website.

imagecpwrj.pngJo Loughran

Jo Loughran has been working as Campaign Advisor for the Centre for Ageing Better to help deliver Age Without Limits, the country’s first nationwide anti-ageism campaign. Jo was previously director responsible for the strategic leadership and delivery of Time to Change, England's largest and most ambitious programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination and drive major social change in mental health.