Today is International Day of Older Persons; an opportunity to highlight the important contributions that older people make to society. The theme this year is Journey to Age Equality and will focus on pathways of coping with existing and preventing future old age inequality.
Across the UK, local leaders have signed an open letter committing them to tackling ageism and talking more positively about later life. The letter has been co-ordinated by the Centre for Ageing Better and the UK Network of Age-Friendly Communities, part of a World Health Organisation Global network of over 900 places committed to fostering healthy and active ageing. Signed by Andy Burnham and Martin Rees, as well as nearly 30 other local leaders, the letter commits the figures to challenging ageism within their own communities and organisations.
Recent research into perceived age discrimination and health and wellbeing in England showed that a quarter of people over the age of 50 have felt discriminated against whilst doing everyday tasks or accessing services. With this in mind, the open letter also asks the public to commit to speaking more positively about later life.
Anna Dixon, Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, which supports the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities, said:
‘Many of us are living longer. While some of us can look forward with confidence to enjoying later life, others are being held back by outdated and damaging attitudes.
‘Negative stereotypes about older age can have a pernicious effect on our self-perception, limit our ideas of what we can do as we get older and stop us making the most of these extra years.
‘We are proud to have partnered with the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities on International Day of Older Persons to call for a change in how we all talk about ageing and people in later life.
‘It is great to see so many influential leaders who are committed to making their communities more age-friendly, now collectively affirming their commitment to talk more positively about later life. We hope everyone will join us to end ageism.’
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said:
‘As the UK’s first age-friendly city-region, Greater Manchester is committed to becoming one of the best places in the world to grow old. We know this includes having a modern and positive narrative on ageing that emphasises the contribution older people make. Ageism affects us all - now is the time to change the way we think and talk about ageing.’