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Discrimination and Abuse

Your rights do not diminish as you get older, but unfortunately some older people find that other people make assumptions about them and treat them differently because of their age or a long-term condition or disability.

Discrimination occurs when someone makes an assumption about you because of your age (or another 'protected characteristic') and treats you differently because of it. You may need to point out that someone’s assumptions about you are not true or you may need information and advice to decide whether to take further action and who can help.

The Equality Act 2010 protects people from being discriminated against by employers, banks and businesses, health and care providers, landlords, education providers and local authorities on grounds including age and disability.

The Human Rights Act 1998 requires that your rights should be respected by public bodies such as the government, courts, local authorities and the NHS. Human Rights have had a bad press at times, but they are important principles and are rights which most people would want. They include the right to life, freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, and respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence.

These are rights which you may have taken for granted throughout your life, but they may become more important to you if you need help from other people and other services in later life.

For the full list of protections under these laws see Age Scotland’s Age Maze.

Age Scotland Age Maze

For expert information see the websites of the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Equality Advisory Support Service.

Abuse of older people

Some older people in Scotland experience abuse, harm and neglect which can take many forms. They are abused by people they thought they could trust in places where they should be safe. Anyone can be at risk of abuse, but older people can be particularly vulnerable if they need to depend on others, are frail, have health problems or problems with thinking or memory.

You can read more about staying safe from abuse, and what to do if you are worried that someone you know is being abused, in our guides below. 

Staying safe from abuse

Worried an older person is being abused


The Age Scotland Helpline

Our free 0800 12 44 222 helpline is a free, confidential phone service for older people, their carers and families in Scotland. Lines are open Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm.

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