Ageism is systemic problem in Canada; most tolerated form of social prejudice

Elders being deprived of independence and choice

Ageism is the most tolerated form of social prejudice in Canada compared to racism and sexism, and many well-intentioned Canadians are, in fact, depriving their elders of the independence and choice that are crucial to aging well. These are among the findings of the Revera Report on Ageism: Independence and Choice As We Age, released today by Revera and the Sheridan Centre for Elder Research.  The report accompanies the launch of the Revera Innovators In Aging program, a $20 million commitment by Revera to bring promising innovations to life that help seniors maintain their independence.

“Ageism is the next great social issue that demands our attention, and together, individuals, organizations and governments need to take action,” said Thomas Wellner, President and CEO of Revera. “In addition to conducting research on ageism and raising awareness of this issue through our Age is More initiative, Revera is committing $20 million to fund entrepreneurs who have developed innovative new products and services that will enhance the aging experience and help seniors live life to the fullest.”

“Ageism is getting old!” says Hazel McCallion, former Mayor of the City of Mississauga, now Chief Elder Officer at Revera and Chancellor of Sheridan College. See video:

Ageism: A Widespread Problem

According to the report, more than four in ten Canadians (42 per cent) feel ageism is the most tolerated form of social prejudice; more than double that of racism (20 per cent) and sexism (17 per cent).  Additionally:

  • Fully one in four (25 per cent) Canadians – from Gen Y to Boomers — admit they have treated someone differently because of their age.
  • More than half (51 per cent) of Canadians ages 77+ report that others assume they can’t do things for themselves.
  • One in four (26%) respondents 77+ report that, because of their age, people make choices for them without asking their preference.

The Importance of Independence: A Perception Gap

Canadians strongly agree that independence is important, but younger adults have a blind spot when it comes to older Canadians:

  • Almost 100 per cent of Canadians, in every age cohort, agree that maintaining independence is important to them personally.
  • However, younger adults (ages 20-34) are more than five times as likely (21 per cent) to say that independence is not important to those 75+ than those who are near or at that age themselves

“Ageism is getting old! Every person, young or old, can live life with purpose,” says 95-year-old formerMississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, now Chief Elder Officer at Revera and Chancellor of Sheridan College. “This purpose doesn’t end when you get older; society must recognize that older people can and want to continue to make a contribution, and this begins with tackling ageism.”

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