The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) have published “That Age Old Question”, a new report available here.

The RSPH found that negative attitudes towards age start early, even from as young as 6 years old. These seeds of ageism can then grow over the years, strengthened by negative age-related stereotypes in the media, the hard sell of anti-ageing products and a society that fails to foster regular intergenerational interaction.

The RSPH's survey of 18-34 year olds revealed a high level of age-related prejudice amongst millennials.

"There isn’t any way to escape getting dementia as you age"

“it is normal to be unhappy and depressed when you are old.”

“Older people can never really be thought of as attractive.”

Recommendations in the report

The Report contains a number of policy recommendations which it argues will improve the lot of older people in the UK. It splits these into two types: those policies that address ageing throughout our lives, and those policies that combat age-negativities across all of society.

In relation to ageing across our lives, the report suggests that services such as nurseries, youth clubs, and care homes should be all brought under the same roof. This would give more opportunities for more people to interact with older people. However, this policy could have the reverse effect; if the only (or most often) opportunity for people to interact with older people is those in a care home, then potentially it could engrain a belief that all older people are frail, sickly, and in need of help.

Other recommendations include addressing positive ageing in schools, the promotion of diversity in the workforce, and a program of support for employee wellbeing and resilience in preparation for later life.

In relation to combatting age-negativities in wider society, the report suggests that there should be an independent review of the representation of older people in the media, that the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) should include “age” in the Editors’ Code of Practice as a characteristic by which journalists must not discriminate, that Facebook should include “age” as a protected characteristic in its community standards on hate speech, and that there should be an end to the use of the term “anti-ageing” in the cosmetics and beauty industries

Nearly two in three of the public (64%) don’t have a single friendship with an age gap of 30 years or more.
— “That Age Old Question”