International Day of Older Persons, 1 October 2016: ‘Take a stand against ageism’

October 1 is celebrated as the International Day of Older Persons.

The theme for 2016, Take a Stand Against Ageism, urges everyone to consider ageism and the detrimental impact it has on older people.

Background Information:

AgeismIt is the stereotyping and discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age; ageism can take many forms, including prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory practices, or institutional policies and practices that perpetuate stereotypical beliefs.

Ageism can take many forms. These include depicting older people as frail, dependent, and out of touch in the media, or through discriminatory practices such as health-care rationing by age, or institutional policies such as mandatory retirement at a certain age.

Age limits applied to policies such as retirement age for example, do not recognize the range of capacities of the older person – and assume that all older persons are the same.

This deeply entrenched institutionalised ageism may be used to discriminate against older adults when allocating health resources or when collecting data that influence health policies.

Key Messages:

In a survey of more than 83,000 people in 57 countries, 60% of respondents said that older people are not respected.

The lowest levels of respect were reported in high income countries. 

Ageism and Health:

Negative attitudes about ageing and older people also have significant consequences for the physical and mental health of older adults.

Older people who feel they are a burden perceive their lives to be less valuable, putting them at risk of depression and social isolation.

Recently published research shows that older people who hold negative views about their own ageing, do not recover as well from disability and live on average 7.5 years less than people with positive attitudes.

Useful Links:

Link to the news release:

Link to WHO’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Ageism:

Link to infographic on ageing and health:

Link to WHO fact sheet on ageing and health (updated September 2015):

Link to summary document of WHO’s Global strategy and action plan on ageing and health (2016-2020):

Link to WHO page ‘Ageing and health- what you can do’:

Link to WHO’s Ageing attitudes quiz:

Link to WHO’s page ‘Ageism in the workplace’:

Link to WHO report ‘World report on ageing and health’ (English)(2015):

Link to WHO report ‘World report on ageing and health’ (Chinese)(2015):

Link to WHO report ‘World report on ageing and health’ (French) (2015):

Link to WHO report ‘World report on ageing and health’ (Russian) (2015):

Link to WHO report ‘World report on ageing and health’ (Spanish) (2015):

Link to WHO’s page ‘Misconceptions on ageing and health’:

Link to WHO’s animated GIF ‘Populations are getting older’:


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