New research applies novel microscope to ‘older Australians’ and ageism

EveryAGE Counts

Seven in ten older Australians believe ‘ageism against older people is a serious problem,’ but those in their 50s and 60s are significantly more likely to hold this view than those in their 80s and 90s, according to landmark new national polling commissioned for the nation’s second Ageism Awareness Day today (Oct 7).

The research also finds a strong majority of older Australians want the government to invest in a national awareness campaign about ageism and its effects.

  • 68% of all over-50s agree ‘ageism against older people is a serious problem in Australia’ (73% of those aged 60-69)
  • 74% of all over-50s believe Australia is ‘not doing enough to raise awareness of ageism and fight against it’
  • 58% of over-50s want ‘a government campaign to raise awareness about ageism and its effects’
  • Those aged in their 80s are significantly less likely to think ageism is a problem than those in the 50s, 60s or 70s
  • People in their 60s are the most likely older Australians to have experienced ageism in the past year – 37% versus 26% for over-50s more generally
  • 36% of over-50s say ‘People have assumed I cannot understand or learn new technology’ and 50% of those aged 90 and over
  • 21% of over-50s say “People have insisted on doing things for me that I am capable of doing on my own’ (35% of over-90s)
  • 28% of 50-59 year olds say ‘My applications for jobs have been rejected because of my age’
  • 25% of those in their 50s and 25% of those in their 60s say ‘I have been made to feel like I am too old for my work’
  • 8% of 50-59 year olds say ‘I have been denied health services or treatment because of my age,’ but that figure leaps to 20% among those 90+
  • 28% of over-50s say ‘I have been ignored or made to feel invisible’
  • 11% say ‘doctors and healthcare workers talk past me to my companion or carer,’ but that figure is 27% among 90+ year olds

Dr Marlene Krasovitsky, who heads Australia’s national campaign against ageism – EveryAGE Counts – said the results were startling.

“The fact seven out of ten Australians consider ageism to be a serious problem should make us all sit up and take notice,” Dr Krasovitsky said.

“The way most polling has traditionally lumped ‘older Australians’ together into one monolithic group is ageist in and of itself. What this new research shows is that attitudes to ageism and experiences of ageism vary significantly across a very diverse ‘over-50’ group.

“By zooming in on different age brackets among older Australians we find that ageism affects people in different ways. For example, this polling shows us that Australians in their 50s and 60s are likely to encounter ageism at work or when applying for jobs. Those in their 80s and 90s, conversely, are more likely to report experiencing ageism in the health system, either by being denied treatments or by being ignored in favour of a carer.

The EveryAGE Counts campaign will today mark Ageism Awareness Day with a panel headlined by Ita Buttrose AC, OBE. The day will also be marked at workplaces and in communities around the nation with various events and initiatives.

Key Facts:

  • 68% of all over-50s agree ‘ageism against older people is a serious problem in Australia’ (73% of those aged 60-69)
  • 74% of all over-50s believe Australia is ‘not doing enough to raise awareness of ageism and fight against it’
  • 58% of over-50s want ‘a government campaign to raise awareness about ageism and its effects’
  • Those aged in their 80s are significantly less likely to think ageism is a problem than those in the 50s, 60s or 70s
  • People in their 60s are the most likely older Australians to have experienced ageism in the past year – 37% versus 26% for over-50s more generally

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