Is ageism a big issue in Canada?
Ageism has become one of Canada’s most tolerated forms of social discrimination, and a new survey concludes that so many Canadians look down on seniors. A poll of 1,500 found eight in ten Canadian believes seniors above 75 are seen as less critical and are ignored compared to younger generations. Six in ten seniors above 66 say they have been mistreated because of their age, while 35 percent of Canadians accept they’ve treated someone differently because of their age.
Based on the survey, the three most common forms of age discrimination in Canada are:
• Being neglected or treated like, they are invisible (41 percent)
• Being treated like they have nothing to offer (38 percent)
• Thinking seniors are incompetent (27 percent)
Jane Barratt, the secretary-general of the International Federation on Ageing, says it’s unfortunate that many Canadians have such negative beliefs about ageing and the importance of seniors’ peace of mind, particularly since almost all of us will become seniors ourselves a day. According to her, “By 2050, one in four Canadians will be a senior, and we’ll need to watch our behaviour since ageism is alongside racism and sexism as social prejudices go.”
But remember, ageism is a serious problem not only in Canada but worldwide. The poll found that 89 percent of Canadians associate ageing with adverse consequences such as being alone and losing self-sufficiency. And yet, older Canadians believe “age is just a number.”
In fact, forty percent of those above 66 say they believe the “best is yet to come.”
“As we grow older, we become much more optimistic,” says Barratt.
“Younger Canadians might see older people as difficult and grumpy and not much involved in the community. But that’s an absolute misunderstanding that we need to end.”