• It is tempting to think that ageing is
‘natural’, but the opposite is the
case. Ageing is an artefact of culture.
It is very rare in wild animals and
was rare in humans until 200 years
• People cease to be people, cease
to be the same people or,
become people of a distinct and
inferior kind, by virtue of having
lived a specified number of years.
Ageism in the UK
• 10 million people in the UK are over 65 years old. The latest projections are for 5½ million more elderly people in 20 years time and the number will have nearly doubled to
around 19 million by 2050.
• A man born in the UK in 1981 had a life expectancy at birth of 84 years. For a boy born today, the figure is 89 years, and by 2030 it is projected to be 91. The trend for women
is similar. A girl born in 1981 was expected to live for 89 years and one born today might expect to live to 92.
Age Concern (2000)
• In the UK, 1 in 20 people aged 65+
have been refused treatment by the
• In the UK, 1 in 10 people aged 50+
believe they were treated differently
(worse) because of their age.
• In a survey for the University of Kent, England, 29%
of respondents stated that they had suffered from
age discrimination. This is a higher proportion than
for gender or racial discrimination.
• Dominic Abrams professor at the university,
concluded that Ageism is the most pervasive form
of prejudice experienced in the UK population.
• Television portrays only 1.5 of its
characters as elderly, and most of
them are in minor roles (Zebrowitz
and Montepare 2000).
• Scientists are generally stereotyped
as older, grey-haired men who are
Age Concern (2000)
• In April 2000, Jill Baker was
a cancer patient in her 60’s.
Despite being in generally
good health, a junior doctor
put a ‘not for resuscitation’
on her records.
Levy et al (2000)
• Elderly participants carried out a computer
questionnaire, and subliminal messages
both positive and negative were presented
• Given the choice of receiving a procedure
without which they would die in a
• Those shown the positive words chose the
life saving treatment, while those
exposed to negative words declined.
• Some of the words associated with
older people include; vulnerable,
weak, forgetful, clumsy, wrinkly,
smelly, quiet, hunched over.
• It is a common perception that as we
get older, we ‘loose our marbles’.
• Compared to other stereotypes, Old
age is something that will affect
everybody at some stage.
• Smith (1998) argues that ‘we must abandon the
fatalistic view that mental decline is an inevitable
accompaniment of ageing’.
• A study by Schooler and Mulatu (2001) found
that people who engage in intellectually
demanding work, or hobbies tend to have better
preserved intellectual capabilities and lower
instances of dementia.
• Charness (1981), found that older Chess players
demonstrated the same if not higher capabilities
than those of their younger counterparts.
• Negative cultural stereotypes of
ageing actually cause memory
decline in the elderly (self fulfilling
• Many medical students refer to their
older patients as ‘geriatric crumbly’
or GOMER (get out of my emergency
Please join StudyMode to read the full document