Ageism: Discrimination and stereotyping on the basis of age.

We know it’s not OK to allocate resources by race or by sex. Why should it be OK to weigh the needs of the young against the old? “- Mr R.K.Vij

After the All India HUM Senior Survey (AIHSS) was conducted, we found that the percentage of senior citizens living in nursing homes is dropping along with the decreasing number of seniors with dementia. The real epidemic now is ‘Anxiety & Depression’ over memory loss.

Evidently the longer a person lives, the less they fear dying. People are happiest at the beginnings and the end of their lives. It’s called the U-curve of happiness, and it’s been borne out by dozens of studies around the world it’s the way ageing itself affects the brain.
When we compared the result of the HUM survey to some similar ones published for seniors in the west, it showed that the baby boomers in the west have a very different perception when it comes to retirement, they start planning and living their lives independently whereas the common perception of a senior, post-retirement in our nation is to depend upon the younger generations for the rest of their days. Western boomers perceive old age as a new beginning to kickstart the 2nd innings of their life whereas as people tend to reach their 60’s in the east they start preparing for the ultimate reality.

Why on earth do we stop celebrating the ability to adapt and grow as we move through life? Why should ageing well mean struggling to look and move like younger versions of ourselves? It’s embarrassing to be called out as older until we quit being embarrassed about it, and it’s not healthy to go through life dreading our futures.

It is not the passage of time that makes getting older so much harder than it has to be. It is ageism. When labels are hard to read, there’s no handrail, or we can’t open the damn jar, we blame ourselves, our failure to age successfully, instead of the ageism that makes those natural transitions shameful and the discrimination that makes those barriers acceptable.

In my 78 years of experience, these are the most common stereotypes I believe have penetrated deep into the society-

– The first stereotype relates to consumption. Younger people frequently feel that limited resources should be spent on themselves rather than on older adults.
-The second stereotype relates to succession. Younger people often assume that older individuals have “had their turn,” and should make way for the younger generations.
-Finally, young people also hold stereotypes about the identity of older adults. Younger people feel that those who are older, should “act their age” and not try to “steal” the identities of younger people, including things such as speech patterns and manner of dress.
The personal and economic consequences of such stereotyping are devastating & none of them holds up under scrutiny. Companies aren’t adaptable and creative because their employees are young; they’re adaptable and creative despite it.
Diverse companies aren’t just better places to work; they work better. And just like race and sex, age is a major criterion for diversity. Manifestations of ageism are frequently cited in workplace situations, where it can lead to pay disparities or difficulty finding employment.
Younger adults may have difficulty finding jobs and receive lower pay due to their perceived lack of experience, while older adults may have problems achieving promotions, finding new work, and changing careers.

What’s the biggest obstacle to having a sense of purpose in late life?

A culture that tells us that getting older means shuffling offstage.
That’s why the World Health Organization is developing a global anti-ageism initiative to extend not just lifespan but health span. By 2050, one out of five of us, almost two billion people, will be age 60 and up. Longevity is a fundamental hallmark of human progress. All these older people represent a vast unprecedented and untapped market. And yet, capitalism and urbanization have propelled age bias into every corner of the globe.

Almost 70% elders we surveyed said they have trouble accessing ‘quality healthcare’. Almost 40% said that their income post retirement doesn’t cover basic services like food, water, electricity, and decent housing.
Is this the world we want our children, who may well live to be a hundred, to inherit? Everyone all ages, all genders, all nationalities are old or future-old, and unless we put an end to it, ageism will oppress us all. And that makes it a perfect target for collective advocacy.
There are no codified laws in India however, that tackle age discrimination, either at the local or national level.
Since there is no codified law on age discrimination in India, there is no designated statutory body which deals with matters pertaining to age discrimination. The awareness of the need to prevent age-based discrimination is very low as well.
The Constitution of India guarantees certain fundamental rights to the citizens of India, including protection to individuals from discrimination only on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth under Article 15 of the Constitution of India.
However, age is not included. In practice, age discrimination is actually prohibited at various levels in matters of job recruitment or retirement. Under the penal laws of India, no criminal sanctions are prescribed in relation to age discrimination and thus, only civil law actions can be instituted, and even then, only in cases where discrimination on the basis of age is highly unjustified.
According to the nature of the claim made and the category of the employee, such cases can be filed in civil courts, service tribunals or labour court. Mostly claims made in India related to age discrimination are limited to judicial precedents.
I am a 78-year-old retired technocrat and founder of a new-age startup for the elders of India. I lead a very active life with a regular routine which includes yoga, healthy eating and working in the office for the betterment of seniors like me!

Longevity is here to stay. A movement to end ageism is underway. I’m in it, and I hope you will join me!
-R. K. Vij, Founding Partner, HUM Communities

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Manohar Deshpande

Vibha Corporation

 

He has over 50 years of experience in industry and currently running his own  company by name “Vibha Corporation” in Nashik!He is founder President of an NGO by name “Sujan Nagrik Manch”which distributed 30500 meals to the needy in the recent lock-down!He is  associated as a Trustee with another NGO “Niradhar  Swavalamban Samiti”which runs a school for poor children in slum area in Nashik!He is past president of a Senior citizens association in Mahatmanagar,Nashik! He is involved in other social activities too!He has an in-depth knowledge about the challenges and aspirations of seniors in Nashik.