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What is ageism?

Posted on 19 August 2019

Ageism is when someone is discriminated against or treated unfairly because of their age.

It’s sometimes called age discrimination and can also include the way that older people are represented in the media.

Oxford dictionary definition of ageism: Prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age.

Why is ageism a problem?

The way something is represented in popular culture or in society can directly change people’s views on it.

Ageism leads the public to think that being older is a negative thing when it can be one of the best times of our life.

Negative attitudes towards ageing has been proven to impact older people’s quality of life and ultimately their life span.

As we live in an ageing population, more people will be experiencing age discrimination than ever before.

Ageism in stats

  • 2 billion people will be over 60 years old by the year 2050*
  • When someone thinks positively about ageing their life expectancy is increased by 7.5 years*

Examples of ageism

Sometimes it’s not always clear that you’ve been subject to ageism. Here are some examples of discrimination based on age:

  • Not being chosen for a job because of your age, or losing a job because of your age
  • Not being considered for a promotion above someone else who is younger
  • Being refused a financial product because of your age, including interest-free credit, a new credit card or insurances
  • Experiencing a lower quality of service in a shop or restaurant because of your age
  • Being refused membership to a club or association

Ageist language and phrases

People might not like to think about growing older, but its something that we actually hope will happen someday.

Ageing doesn’t have to be scary or negative, and we can start changing perceptions of ageing by not using these phrases.

  1. "Past it"
  2. "Over the hill"
  3. "Mutton dressed as lamb"
  4. "Decrepit old man/woman"
  5. "Drive like an old lady"
  6. "Grumpy old man"
  7. "Old fogey"
  8. "Codger"
  9. "Senile"
  10. "Out of touch"

Top 10 phrases you don't realise are ageist

Certain phrases might seem like they’re positive or not necessarily negative, but when they’re used, they make you think that being older is a negative.

  1. "You still have time"
  2. "You look good for your age"
  3. "Ladies of a certain age"
  4. "You’re still working?”"
  5. "Anti-ageing"
  6. "A senior moment"
  7. "Little old lady"
  8. "Cute old man"
  9. "Can’t teach an old dog new tricks"
  10. "You’re young at heart"

Ageism in the workplace

Age discrimination at work is one of the most common forms of ageism. This can happen in:

  • Recruitment – leaving someone older unable to get an interview, or if they do, to miss out on the job over someone who is younger
  • Training – employers may not offer someone who is older as many training opportunities as they think they are near the end of their career
  • Promotion – again, older people may miss out on a promotion over someone younger due to being nearer to retirement age
  • Retirement – age is no longer a reliable indicator for retirement, though outdated views on what should be a retired age can affect how an employer treats some of its workers

Ageism in the workplace is so common because some employers think older workers are not as health, educated, skilful or productive as their younger co-workers.

This is an outdated view and older workers can be just as, or if not more, productive and employable as younger people.

The Equality Act

Thanks to The Equality Act 2010, UK citizens are now legally protected from age discrimination as well as eight other kinds of discrimination.

The Equality Act means that unfair treatment on the basis of personal characteristics such as age is now illegal in almost all cases. The Act applies to:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Gender reassignment
  • Disability
  • Religion or belief
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marriage or civil partnership
  • Pregnancy or maternity

How to fight ageism

As the population of older adults continues to increase, finding ways to minimise ageism will become even more important.

Read our Ageist Britain? Report to look more deeply at the thoughts, feelings and science behind ageism.

Sources

*https://www.who.int/ageing/ageism/en/

SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50s life insurance, funeral plans, equity release, home insurance, car insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife?

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). 

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

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