Key Takeaways:

We know that prejudice against older adults exists. But you might be surprised at just how many people are affected and how much it costs the US each year.

Older adults are often marginalized in society, leading to financial and emotional struggles for them. A recent survey found that 94% of people over 50 regularly experience ageism. The problem is so widespread that it costs the US economy approximately $850 billion annually‚ÄĒand that's just the monetary cost!

It also leads to poor health outcomes for older adults, including those related to cognition, mental and physical health, and work performance. People who think of themselves as old are more likely to develop conditions like heart disease and diabetes, which kill millions of Americans yearly. One study found that ageism costs the US $63 billion a year in healthcare costs for the eight most-expensive health conditions, most notably, cardiovascular disease. A reduction of ageism would not only benefit the health of older adults but also have a monetary benefit to society.

Ageism has many forms, including harmful stereotyping, employment discrimination, poor access to health care services, and social isolation. On Ageism Awareness Day, we want to explore solutions to the problem. The good news is that there are meaningful ways to approach these concerns.

Combatting ageism through education and empowerment

The first step to combatting ageism is education. GetSetUp is on a mission to dispel misconceptions around aging and empower older adults to live their best lives. There are three main areas of concern that we're addressing.

  1. Discrimination in the workplace is one of the most apparent problems as it reduces access to employment. Reskilling and upskilling older adults is an effective way to combat it. By honing their technology skills, older adults can gain the skills they need to be viable in the job marketplace. 
  1. Regarding ageism in healthcare, a couple of factors are at play. On the one hand, doctors may dismiss a treatable illness as an inevitable part of getting old. But self-ageism is also a concern because it means older adults are less likely to seek healthcare and less likely to get preventative care. Awareness of strategies for aging well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can give older adults the confidence to take control of their health and speak up when needed.
  1. Ageism exacerbates feelings of loneliness. Lack of social connectedness can lead to depression, cognitive decline, and mortality. Becoming involved in community activities, spiritual organizations, or virtual communities like the GetSetUp Club can give older adults a sense of belonging and self-worth.

Though there certainly are problems with society's attitudes towards the aging process, there are many reasons to be hopeful. If we begin to challenge these preconceived notions, then perhaps we can build a better future for people of all ages. The goal for the future is to continue addressing discrimination against older adults and give them the tools they need to learn and thrive.

Oct 7, 2022
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