A report on how we treat seniors indicates that one in four adults will treat someone differently based on their age, making ageism the most tolerated form of social prejudice in Canada. The Revera Report on Ageism: Independence and Choice As We Age, ranks ageism at a higher percentage than racism and sexism.
The report, released at the end of May and developed in partnership with the Sheridan Centre for Elder Research, examines the way ageism deprives seniors in Canada of their choice and independence. It also reveals how attempts by many people to assist seniors in their lives has an opposite effect. The findings in the report are based on a national survey of more than 2,400 Canadians at least 20 years of age.
Verne Reeves, 87, has been a resident at the Alexander Mackie Retirement Community in Langford for 14 months.
Having previously worked as the director of a seniors home has provided Reeves with a unique perspective on ageism.
He said more people treat you differently because you’re older and want to give you advice and do things for you that you wouldn’t have expected in the past. “Even my own kids and my first wife’s kids want to take care of things for you and you’re not quite sure why,” he explained. “I’m a go with the flow kind of person, which I get from my mother who was a kind sweet soul, but you try to be as independent as you can. I’m very protective of my independence and want to stay independent as long as I can.”
He sees examples of people who were once able to let everything slowly deteriorate to the point where they need assistance.
“A lot depends on genetics and lifestyle,” he noted, adding that he’s pleased Beacon Services is there to provide assistance when needed.
Sergiu Filatov, executive director of Alexander Mackie Retirement Community, said he has seen examples of ageism many times, mainly with young people.
“There seems to be an issue where people are treated differently, especially with children in their 30s,” he said. “They assume their parents need help with even basic decisions because they think they’re not capable.”
They assume seniors have lived their lives and there’s no more growth or improvement, added Filatov, who has been at the Alexander Mackie Retirement Community since it opened in 2006.
“In an environment like this you see younger employees who needed guidance in dealing with seniors and awareness training,” Filatov added.
Further to the findings in the Revera Report on Ageism, more than 60 per cent of seniors aged 66 or more believe they have been treated unfairly or differently because of their age.
One third of Canadians admit to treating someone differently because of their age, and that statistic increases to 43 per cent and 42 per cent for generation X and Y respectively.
More than half of Canadians believe ageism is the most tolerated form of discrimination, compared to prejudice based on gender or race. Seventy-nine per cent agree that seniors 75 and older are perceived as less important and are more often dismissed than younger generations, while one in five believe seniors are a burden on society. For more on the report, visit reveraliving.com.