Ageism Awareness

27th May 2024

Posted In: FYI

Societal views on ageing are evolving rapidly and positively, outlined 31 Age Friendly Ireland Ambassadors  from the worlds of entertainment, sports, journalism, and business at a recent event. Ambassadors — including prominent figures such as former Irish hotelier and television personality Francis Brennan and actress Geraldine Plunkett — gathered at Slane Castle, Meath for the inaugural Age Friendly Ambassadors’ Day, an annual awareness initiative launched by Age Friendly Ireland to champion positive ageing.

Further attendees include former Irish Gaelic Football manager Sean Boylan; singer Sandy Kelly; entrepreneur Gavin Duffy; and Managing Director of the National Ploughing Association, Anna May McHugh. Representing a younger perspective on ageism, Rose of Tralee Rachel Duffy from Westmeath is also an Age Friendly Ambassador.

These ambassadors hold honorary positions to promote age-friendly practices within their local authority areas and support local Age-Friendly Programmes across Ireland. This includes countering ageism and prejudice by promoting positive age awareness.

The Age Friendly Ambassadors’ Day is this year themed Ageism Awareness, referring to the stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination directed towards people based on their age.

The ambassadors highlighted how older individuals — there are 806,300 people aged 65 and over in Ireland — are redefining ageing. They noted that older people are more active and engaged than previous generations, with significant shifts in societal attitudes towards health, exercise, and socialisation. However, they also addressed persistent stereotypes about ageing, which affect both young and old. Terms like “teenage delinquents” and “grumpy old men” continue to perpetuate age-related biases, said attendees.

Rachel Duffy, the 2022 Rose of Tralee, outlined:

“There is a huge taboo regarding women ageing. The notion of ‘never ask a woman her age’ creates negative stereotypes around ageing and growing old.

Because of stereotypes like this, there are so many industries profiting off the general population’s fear of growing old with miracle treatments or cures to slow down ageing.”

When discussing ageism, the ambassadors pointed to workplace discrimination, particularly the reluctance to employ healthy, active older individuals in certain jobs and the predominance of younger executives in higher roles.

Gavin Duffy added: “Professionally I have coached many older executives in their job search and interview preparation.

The majority of higher executive roles are invariably filled by people under 40. A 50-something executive with a great resume and relevant experience finds it almost impossible to get a job. It takes between 12 to 18 months to get a job.

It is rare for people to have the same job for life until their mid-60s. So people will be on the jobs market from time to time but if they are over 50 it is a struggle.”

Many ambassadors also admitted to unintentionally holding ageist views themselves.

Catherine McGuigan, Chief Officer of Age Friendly Ireland, said: “Ageism is pervasive in our society, manifesting in stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination based on age. It can be seen in many areas, from the way older people are portrayed as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘frail,’ to self-directed ageism where individuals fear revealing their age.

This bias extends to the workplace, where capable older individuals are often overlooked for roles, and to unconscious biases that shape our everyday interactions.

“Positive ageing is crucial because it challenges these harmful stereotypes and fosters an environment where people of all ages are valued and respected. With our amazing Age-Friendly Ambassadors promoting positive ageing, we can ensure that Ireland is not just a great place to grow up, but a great place to grow old as well.”

If you’d like to find out more visit here>> 

Pictured at Slane Castle for the inaugural Age Friendly Ambassadors’ Day is Stylist & Milliner Faith Amond with Age Friendly Ambassadors in the background (Image ©Barry Cronin).