The longevity revolution & ageism

“Ageism differs in that it is not directed at a minority group; it impacts on men and women of every race. But the predominant images of old age are out of keeping with the evidence.” Patricia Edgar

With the longevity revolution we are entering a new and unprecedented stage of our history. With advances in medicine and public health, most of the world’s people have gained 30 additional years of life in the 21st century. People now expect longer and healthier lives.

Yet despite this immense demographic change we continue to have obsolete attitudes about growing older. The social construct of old age and how older people are viewed should now be updated and revised.

We need to redefine ageing. We need to inform and educate Australians of all ages about the harmful effects of age discrimination which is the by- product of out dated views on ageing.

The media, including advertising plays a very significant part in forming community attitudes towards ageing and the discriminatory attitudes which often stem from negative stereotypes or misconceptions about older people.

We need to promote greater awareness of the damaging effects of negative stereotyping on the lives of older people. As with all struggles for human rights, the fight for fair treatment of older people begins with bringing to public attention the prejudices and discrimination that daunts older peoples’ lives.

COTA could begin to tackle this problem by working with media professionals in journalism and advertising on developing strategies to educate media professionals, help change the representation of older people and work towards ageing being presented in an accurate, contemporary and unbiased manner.

Brendan O’Dwyer

Media & Communications at COTA Victoria


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