Older members of society mostly seen as incompetent, hostile or a burden, says report

By Sora Shimazaki

By Amelia Hill, The Guardian /

About 82 percent of Americans who are 50 and older say they have experienced prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping based on their age, according to new research.

Ageism, as it is commonly called, can occur as jokes about memory or hearing, comments about difficulty using cellphones or computers, or even passively through advertising and other forms of messaging about undesirable signs of aging, such as wrinkles or gray hair.

According to the research, by the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging, 65 percent of those polled said they had been exposed to “ageist messages” in their day-to-day lives, including hearing, seeing or reading jokes about old age, ageing or older people.

The research found that those who reported experiencing more ageism in their everyday lives were more likely to have poor mental and physical health, a finding that has been noted in other research. The data in the poll was based on a nationally representative sample of 2,048 people ages 50 to 80.

The poll was conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, along with AARP and Michigan Medicine. One of the researchers described ageism as “one of the most common and socially condoned forms of prejudice and discrimination.” Even so, the survey reported that 65 percent of older adults say life after 50 is better than they thought it would be.