In a study from the American Psychological Association, a psychologist has found that age discrimination can shorten lifespans. 

Research by Becca Levy found that lives can be shortened by up to 7.5 years if they feel negatively about their age. 

The extent of the damage done by age discrimination is not felt at the time. It has a deeper impact, changing someone's mental state. Victims have increased negative thoughts about ageing which linger in their subconscious, taking their toll on their health.

Consequentially, victims are less likely to lead healthier lives. They will experience memory loss and other cognitive consequences. They will also have a greater risk of isolation and depression.

Levy's research backs up the findings of an earlier 2011 UK study, where researchers also found a connection between age discrimination and poor health.

The challenge that lies ahead, the WHO said, was in identifying and tackling ageism to ensure healthier and lengthier lifespans.

“Ageism can take many forms,” said Alana Officer, WHO co-ordinator of Ageing and Life Course. “These include depicting older people as frail, dependent, and out of touch in the media, or through discriminatory practices such as health-care rationing by age, or institutional policies such as mandatory retirement at a certain age.”

Sadly, Levy said that recent research suggests that the incidence of ageism is on the rise.

Beating false stereotypes

Older people and pensioners are often shown as being a drain on resources. But, in fact, the opposite is true: older people are more likely to volunteer and work. Our own research shows that, in the UK, the number of over 65 year olds in the job market continues to surge ahead.

The UK workforce (and the population in general) continues to age. Ageing is a global trend. Governments and employers need to pay serious attention to the issues it creates.