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Who Really Gets Harmed By Agism?

 Apr 19, 2017 3:00 PM
by Helen Spence

Agism can impact who you know, what you do and how you do it. Here are some tips for identifying and managing ageism.

The effects of agism on businesses can range from lost productivity, lost potential and lost workers. The effects on directly impacted workers can include negative social, psychological and economic outcomes. In short, ageism harms us all. 

What is agism? 

Agism is stereotyping and discrimination on the basis of a person’s age. It is one of the last “isms” left to eradicate. It is isolating, alienating, damaging to a sense of purpose and general well-being and it has also been proven to shorten lives. 

Agism applies equally to the belief that one might be “too young” to do something but in our western, youth-obsessed society, the “too old” are typically those that get short shrift.  


Examples of agism 

  • Getting fired from a job because of age. 
  • Being turned down for car or travel insurance or being refused an interest free credit card due to age. 
  • Receiving poor service in a store because of the management’s attitude towards older people. 
  • Being rejected for membership in a club or association because of age. 


Although agism is frustrating it can be managed. Here are a few tips for combatting ageism. 

  • Enjoy your age. By embracing yourself you set a positive attitude and example for others to follow. The first step to acceptance, for anyone, is accepting yourself. 
  • Take opportunities to be part of intergenerational activities. Over the last few years, we have seen an increasing level of segregation by age.  It is an unhealthy approach for all of us, both economically and emotionally and is one of the central contributors to agism. 
  • Don't use age to tease. Avoid "funny" jokes that talk about being over the hill or being past prime or other negative language such as, "senior moments". 
  • Watch your language. By continually referencing the differences between your age and others you could inadvertently reinforce bias.  For instance, expressions like, "back in my day..." imply that your day is over. 
  • Don't accept agism. If someone uses agist language or references on you, then call them on it.  Suggest alternatives or tell them that you would prefer they not reference you that way. 


The Top 60 over 60, works to eradicate agism, recognize and celebrate  the accomplishments of older adults.  Intergenerational learning and collaboration are at the heart of what we do.

Ageing Well, Ageism  



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