RALEIGH — For the first time, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) joins the American Society on Aging in recognizing the newly established Age Discrimination Awareness Day, (in English) on October 7, 2023. Modeled after the United Nations’ International Day of Older Persons , Age Discrimination Awareness Day provides an opportunity to draw attention to the existence and impact of age discrimination in our society.
NCDHHS is hosting a virtual webinar event on October 5 at 10:00 am to help draw attention to the existence and impact of age discrimination in our society. To learn how to reframe aging in our communities, click here to join the virtual event.
The most widespread and socially accepted form of prejudice, age discrimination is defined by World Health Organization (in English) as “stereotypes (how we think), prejudices (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or towards oneself based on age.”
“Age discrimination affects us all. Growing older is something to celebrate – we have to learn to find joy in every stage of our lives,” said Joyce Massey-Smith, director of the Division of Aging and Adult Services . NCDHHS. “Seniors are one of North Carolina’s greatest natural resources, and we are one of the most age-friendly states in the country . We are committed to honoring people of all ages through initiatives in North Carolina such as All Ages, All Stages and, through our collective efforts, we will continue to defend North Carolina’s older people against discrimination based on age “.
North Carolina has experienced significant demographic changes in the 21st century, with a national ranking of ninth in the population aged 65 and older. In 2021, one in six people in North Carolina were over 65 years old. That number represents 1.8 million adults, or 17% of the total population, in North Carolina. By 2031, there will be more people age 65 and older than children under age 18 in the state, according to the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics .
“We live in an aging society, which is a wonderful and remarkable thing,” says American Society on Aging (ASA) Interim President Leanne Clark-Shirley. “But many of us view aging with fear, denial and even hostility. We are all aging. We cannot afford to limit ourselves and others with such negative and harmful opinions, and why would we want to? Let’s take advantage of the opportunities, the diversity and the full range of experiences that aging entails.”
Evidence shows that age discrimination is widespread in society and can be found everywhere, from our workplaces and healthcare systems to the stereotypes we see on television, advertising and the media:
- There are many forms of age discrimination, including internalized, cultural, implicit, and benevolent .
- Age discrimination decreases quality of life and can shorten life by 7.5 years .
- Although it is universal, people do not always take age discrimination as seriously as they do other forms of inequality.
- Age discrimination, also known as ageism, intersects with, and exacerbates, all other types of discriminatory “isms.”
- In the media, underrepresented older adults often reflect negative stereotypes.
- According to the United Nations, globally, one in two people discriminates against older adults based on their age (in English).
Photo by Christian Langballe on Unsplash