Seven in 10 older Australians believe ageism against older people is a serious problem, but those in their 50s and 60s are much more likely to hold this view than those in their 80s and 90s.
That's according to landmark national polling commissioned for the nation's second Ageism Awareness Day today (October 7).
The research also finds a strong majority of older people want the government to invest in a national awareness campaign about ageism and its effects.
The research took a representative national sample of 1042 Australians over the age of 50 to examine attitudes to, and experiences of, ageism.
Conducted for advocacy campaign EveryAGE Counts by RedBridge Group, the research segmented participants into 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90-plus.
Among the key findings are:
- 68 per cent of all over-50s agree ageism against older people is a serious problem in Australia (73 per cent of those aged 60-69);
- 74 per cent of over-50s believe Australia is not doing enough to raise awareness of ageism and fight against it;
- 58 per cent of over-50s want a government campaign to raise awareness about ageism and its effects.
The polling showed those in their 80s are significantly less likely to think ageism is a problem than those in the 50s, 60s or 70s.
Those in their 60s are the most likely older people to have experienced ageism in the past year.
Just over a third of participants (36 per cent) said people had assumed they could not understand or learn new technology, while one-fifth said people had insisted on doing things for then that they were capable of doing themselves. This rose to 35 per cent for those aged 90-plus.
Dr Marlene Krasovitsky, who heads the EveryAGE Counts campaign, said the results were startling.
"The fact seven out of 10 Australians consider ageism to be a serious problem should make us all sit up and take notice," she 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."
Dr Krasovitsky said 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," she said. "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."
See the full poll results HERE
Ageism Awareness Day, which follows hot on the heels of the United Nations International Day of Older Persons on October 1, is an opportunity to draw attention to the existence and impacts of ageism in Australia.
Its theme is Ageism: End it.
EveryAGE Counts member groups say the day is a critical step to changing community attitudes and building a world where all people of all ages are valued and respected and their contributions acknowledged.
The campaign says that, on a global scale, one in two people are ageist.
The good news, however, is that Australia is leading the world in learning how to end ageism - "but we still have a long road ahead in changing social attitudes".
So how do we go about ending ageism?
The campaign gives a number of tips to help us along the road. They include:
Tell your own story: Stories are powerful and when you start a conversation you can engage others to end ageism. Conversations can spread ideas through your networks and humanise facts and figures. But watch your tone and language: you want to take people with you, not shut them down.
Be simple and explicit in your language, and use values (not facts) to try to persuade; emphasise the similarities, not differences, between people across age groups; look at people for who they are, not their age; celebrate diversity, not stereotypes; focus on what you want people to believe or understand, not how wrong the other person is; focus on solutions, not problems and explain how we can do things differently.
Also, keep it real - real people, real examples, including yourself.
And don't let ageism get you down. Appreciate the positives in your life, take time to self-reflect on the causes of self-limiting thoughts, and develop new habits, building on activities that make you feel positive and valuable to your community.
EveryAGE Counts is a coalition of diverse groups committed to changing the way we understand and experience growing older to end ageism.
More on Ageism Awareness Day HERE