Negative stereotypes towards older people are rife in the workplace, in health and social care and in the media, a report has argued.
The study by the Centre for Ageing Better said older people are subject to a litany of damaging stereotypes and that attitudes to ageing and older people in the UK are mostly negative.
It found that older workers are seen as having lower levels of performance, less ability to learn, and being more costly than younger workers.
These negative stereotypes outweighed positive stereotypes such as older workers being perceived to be more dependable, loyal and reliable.
In health and social care, the review found that stereotypes are even more negative, with attitudes focusing on death and physical decline and ageing seen as a process of increasingly bad health.
It said the media is a key driver of negative attitudes, representing ageing as a crisis or a societal burden.
These attitudes can affect some groups more, with women and people from black and minority ethnic groups facing a “double jeopardy” of discrimination as they get older.
Ageing Better is calling for a fundamental culture shift to overturn what it calls an ingrained culture of pity and dislike towards older people.
Anna Dixon, chief executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, warned that ageism, like any other form of prejudice, has a profound effect on people’s self-esteem, wellbeing and the way they experience day-to-day life.
“Most of us are living many years longer than previous generations and this is a gift to be celebrated. But the outdated and harmful attitudes laid bare in this research are preventing too many people from making the most of those extra years,” she argued.