As older women, we are bombarded with ads for anti-aging serums and make-up. Anti-aging commercials, in general, are incessant. And what about the many insulting birthday cards in the store aisles or the receptionist who addresses us as “sweetie.” Comedians have long made hay about older people. We, ourselves, joke about senior moments.
There’s a name for all this and it’s being studied. It’s called “everyday ageism,” and there are indicators that it’s associated with poorer health outcomes among older adults. To explore the impact of these commonplace types of age-based prejudices and stereotypes, researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a study using the 10-point Everyday Ageism Scale. In their analyses, they found three major themes: 93% of the 2,035 older adults (aged 50 to 80) experienced some form of ageism every day but it differed based on age (65 to 80 reported more); gender (women reported more) and area (adults in rural areas reported more everyday ageism).
Most significant, the higher the person’s score on a scale of everyday ageism experiences, the more likely they were to be in poor physical or mental health, to have more chronic health conditions or to show signs of depression. The researchers conclude that while everyday ageism is not as abrasive as major episodes of ageism, it may be so chronic and pervasive that it affects older adults negatively. They note that changing societal attitudes around aging may prove difficult but doing so could be life altering. I hope we’re doing our part here at Boom.