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Friday, December 8, 2023

New NARI guide advocates changing language to combat ageism

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To mark Australia’s first Ageism Awareness Day last Friday (October 1) the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) released an age-positive language guide.

“Like any form of prejudice and discrimination, ageism strongly impacts wellbeing,” NARI Executive Director, Professor Briony Dow, said.

“We know the health consequences of ageism can be far-reaching, including physical and mental illness, cognitive impairment, reduced longevity, poor quality of life and wellbeing, and denied access to healthcare and treatments.”

Ageism Awareness Day, which coincided with the United Nations’ International Day of Older Persons, is designed to draw attention to the existence and impacts of ageism in Australia.

Ninety percent of Australians believe that ageism exists in Australia, and 83 per cent believe that ageism is a problem.

Most Australians (63 per cent) report experiencing ageism within the past five years.

“Simple actions are among the strongest ways we can combat ageism, including the ways in which we portray older people,” Dow said.

The guide provides practical examples of how words, phrases, and images can better portray older people and combat ageism, particularly in research.

So, do the terms you use to describe a person or group of people challenge or perpetuate stereotypes about older people?

Maybe instead of saying ‘old person’, ‘the elderly’ and ‘seniors’, you could consider using ‘older person’ or ‘older people’ instead.

Could you be more specific and/or objective? So, instead of using ‘older participants’ or a ‘person who is physically challenged’ or institutionalised elderly’, you might consider saying ‘participants aged 65-85’ or ‘a person with a disability or ‘people living inresidential aged care’?

Combatting ageism is one of NARI’s strategic objectives and aligns with the World Health Organisation’s Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health (2017).

Determinants of ageism against older adults: a systematic review, which was published in the International journal of environmental research and public health, said anyone who works with or for older people has a role to play in achieving this important goal.

Simple actions, it said, are among the strongest determinants of ageism, including the ways in which we portray older people.

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