The Everyday Ageism Project

The Everyday Ageism Project aims to capture people’s everyday experiences of ageism. Research by EURAGE shows that across the European region, ageism is the most commonly experienced form of prejudice, yet relatively little is known about how it is experienced, who experiences it and the situations which may leave people vulnerable to age discrimination.

By providing a safe forum for people to anonymously share their experiences, the project aims to understand the consequences of ageism and the ways that age discrimination can affect people’s everyday lives. We also wish to encourage people to share their stories to show that ageism does exist and that it is a valid problem worth discussing.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Ageist Marketing is Meant to be ‘Quirky’

Baguettes sold as ‘crinkly old bags’

[A food company] sold baguettes as 'crinkly old bags', and as far as I know they still sell them.

[I think this is ageism] from my gut instinct, I felt offended knowing how it is used as an insult towards older women.

[This made me feel] very offended, belittled, excluded and patronised. I was shocked that it was so blatant, the butt of an in joke which they think they can get away with, because it thinks its customers are from a different demographic. I felt depressed because it's not deemed unacceptable! When I complained to the company they said they thought it was meant to be 'quirky'!

This confirms how deep rooted ageism is and how many are so blind to it.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Ageism...When Retirement Age Arrived

"I do my best to confront discrimination of any kind"

When my retirement age arrived, I was told that I could stay on longer at work but would not get any extra Pension rights or employer contribution paid, and I would only be on an annual contract with a reduction of hours. My life experience and knowing a lot about the nature of the work told me that the reduction of hours would imply they would expect the same work done in less time. Note that when I retired they did employ another person, on fewer hours to do the same work. That person was unable to cope under pressure and left. All of my appraisals had been rated as excellent up to the time of my retirement. Management expected that I was not able to keep up the pace of work, for no other reason than that I had reached retirement age.

I was pleased to retire, but a little angry that managers with so little understanding of the work were able to manipulate a decent worker out just to get a cheaper one in, who could not keep up the required pace.

Retirement has made me free to carry out voluntary work with two organisations. My experience in all of this has shown me that in spite of the Government saying they support older people, they STILL discriminate against older people. However by being active I do my best to confront discrimination of any kind and shall keep doing so as long as I am able.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Older People Seen as a Burden and a Drain on Resources

... causing traffic jams and impeding business people

I was phoned by a young reporter (about 2008) to be told that older people were perceived to be a burden and a drain on resources by the local county council. In my experience the same attitude exists in local town councils.  At a transport committee it was made clear that the local council wanted to attract businessmen. They said they did not want older people, and young mothers driving cars and cluttering up the roads. It was stated that these mothers and pensioners were the cause of traffic jams impeding the business people.   Sadly most of the committee were men well over 60.  When I went to give a talk to a forum about transport issues that affect older people, shortly afterwards, in the council offices building, I asked some men who looked of retirement age, standing in a group, if they were going to attend the talk. One man was so outraged he asked me if he looked like a pensioner, and I had to tell him he did.  Ageism is self-perpetuating.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Restricting Access to Transport

Older people do not want to be a 'prisoner in the home'

I was told about this particular incident this morning. A Resident in a residential home was informed that she could only book to have the services of a volunteer transport service, if she was accompanied by a Carer. This lady may have some mobility problems, but her brain is very 'normal'. She is not a prisoner in the home and comes and goes at will. Unfortunately, ageist remarks such as this occur often. Those who live in residential care are 'labelled'. Despite the fact that whatever age, dignity should be paramount.

[This makes me feel] Utterly useless. Nobody should be made to feel, because of age, like they are no longer a valued member of society.

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Insidious Nature of Everyday Ageism is Most Damaging

Older people are not understood

It is the insidious nature of everyday ageism which affects me the most.   Older people are not the desired customers of businesses, whether they are in retail, leisure, entertainment.  In fashion industry we are seen as the boring customers and not the target market. In the beauty industry elderly women represent undesirability and even ugliness. It has spawned a huge market in potions and plastic surgery to hold back time.  In broadcasting, we are not the target age group. This is true in television and radio. We are stereotyped in all forms of media unless we are extremely rich.  We all know about the treatment of older women in TV. Ageism appears endemic in health care; it is the accepted view that older people are "burdens" and "bed blockers".  ‘Care in the Community’ in my view sounds good, but does not really exist. If most of the patients were younger it would probably be very different.

All of the above explains why so many older people keep such a low profile. Many do not want to think of themselves as elderly because it has such poor connotations.  It seems ludicrous to me that one may spend at least 35 years of one’s life being labelled as over the hill.  Older people’s capacity for learning is grossly underestimated. Because the social and educational needs of older people are not understood by many people, organisations such U3A are very successful filling in the gap left by the demise of evening classes. It is run and organised by older people themselves.  Of course most of us would prefer to join non-age specific organisations and societies. But due to ageism we do not always feel welcome.   It makes no sense to me because it was only when I retired I was actually able to get involved in joining in social and leisure activities.  

Like many others I fear falling ill and going into hospital. I absolutely do not want to go into a Care Home or sheltered housing unless I was convinced they have changed out of all recognition. I fear dementia and am not reassured that I would get the care I would need as I live alone.    I fear not being able to get out and about. I hate being patronised as one often is because it is assumed that older people like or need it.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

My First Real Experience of Ageism

Younger staff seen as more dynamic and enthusiastic

I was not affected by ageism until I got to forty-nine, although I did notice I was becoming invisible from the age of thirty. My first real experience was in a staffroom in 1990. We were asked to look at each other by a senior member of management to see how many of us were under the age of 40 years. This person (an older woman) actually said it was a cause for concern. It was made quite clear that younger members of staff were preferred as apparently they were seen as more dynamic and enthusiastic. We soon realised that our hopes of promotion were gone (for most men and women over 35) and we had plenty of evidence to prove it. Ageism is now rife in education all over the country, and older teachers are systematically driven out of their jobs. Parents and pupils on the other hand mostly welcome and appreciate older teachers. 

Importantly older people have so much to offer the younger generations. Individuals recognise this but unfortunately many decision makers do not. I do not envy the younger generation because they are having a hard time. Much harder than when I was their age. Ageism however is depressing as older people are a vital part of society just as younger people are. We do need each other.