Ageism in Health Care: How Patients Can Recognize and Combat the Problem

Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council Staff
Description / Summary

Ageism is a form of discrimination that we all may face, or unintentionally perpetuate, at some point in our lives. It refers to how we think, feel, and act towards someone on the basis of their age. 

Ageism can take many forms across the course of a life, but is most often associated with older adults. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one of every two people are ageist against older people. 

The problem goes beyond the individual level – we also see ageism in our systems. One of the most notable being health care. The WHO says limiting certain health services based on age is “widespread” and the impacts are far reaching. Ageism not only influences how patients are viewed in the health care system, the WHO says it can be associated with a shorter lifespan, an increased risk of violence and abuse against older people, and even costs society billions of dollars.