More than a quarter of over-50s say they have faced discrimination because of their age, a study found.
Victims reported being unfairly treated in stores, restaurants and hospitals and looked down on because they were older.
Ageism also appeared to be linked to poorer health among those it affected, according to the findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.
Victims reported being unfairly treated in stores, restaurants and hospitals and looked down on because they were older, file photo
The survey followed more than 7,500 people aged over 50 for six years in the first major study to examine the association between ageism and health and well-being.
A total of 1,943 of the respondents said they had been affected by age discrimination.
Participants were asked to respond to statements such as ‘you are treated with less respect or courtesy’, ‘you receive poorer service than other people in restaurants and stores’, and ‘you receive poorer service or treatment than other people from doctors or hospitals’. They were also questioned about their experiences of being thought ‘not clever’ or being threatened or harassed.
Those who reported discrimination were more likely to rate their health as ‘fair or poor’ than those who had not encountered ageism.
A total of 1,943 of the respondents said they had been affected by age discrimination, file photo
The group were also more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms or debilitating long-term illnesses, and to go on to develop serious conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
Writing in The Lancet Public Health journal, the authors say people may use unhealthy behaviour – such as smoking, drinking, poor diet or physical inactivity – to cope with experiences of age discrimination. Dr Sarah Jackson from University College London, who led the study, said: ‘We need to increase public awareness of what constitutes ageism and how it can affect health and well-being so we can build collective movements, like those that brought about legislative and social change for other forms of discrimination.’