The improvement in health care services has led to increasing aging population. This has led to the aspect of old age discrimination in work environments, which has led social scientists, trade unions, employers, and politicians to focus more on discrimination on older people and prejudices against older people. However, the increasing issue of ageism not only affects the older employees but also the performance and productivity of organizations. The course has taught me the need for not viewing aging and ageism as an issue to avoid but I now view it as an issue requiring mitigation measures.
However, one aspect that I learned is that ageism cannot be tackled without tracing its origin. According to scholars, ageism in the workplace is categorized under macro, meso, and micro levels. I learned that at the micro level, there is a link between the attitude of the ageists to their individual characteristics such as income, gender, and education. The second perspective is the macro level, which attributes ageism to cultural norms and the attitude held by society. Naegele, De Tavernier, and Hess (2018) explain that societal norms and values manifests in discrimination and prejudice in shaping the behaviors of an organization or an individual towards ageism. Lastly is the meso perspective, which argues that employers provide the ‘places of work’ which in one way or another opens discriminatory behaviors in the workplace.
We also explore four contributing factors to ageism. The first is death where a majority of people including me fear death. While growing up we all identify aging as the next stage before death, which I believe is likely to cause uneasiness and distaste towards ageism. The second factor is the continuing emphasis of media on promoting youths, sexuality, and physical beauty, which in one way or another demeans and diminishes being old. For example, women at old age will work tirelessly to look younger, which is a form of ageism.
We are living in a world that continues to emphasis on increasing productivity. Generally, children and the elderly, when compared to the youths, are less productive. Organizations may thus, discriminate the elderly in search of ‘young energetic employees’, as they are believed to have a future economic opportunity while devaluing the elderly as their economic gains in the business are diminishing. The aspect of self-ageism is also important in this study. This is because as one age he or she tends to change their concepts to aging negatively. This may cause the individual to harbor negative feeling towards aging that when they become old these feelings become self-fulfilling.
Based on these arguments, it is possible that society continues to discriminate the elderly knowingly and unknowingly. Ageism and age discrimination according to Sargeant (2016) results in a status loss, lowers self-esteem, reduces motivation, and self-confidence, and results in under-achievement. In addition, negative attitudes by employers and employees towards the elderly hurt their feelings and are likely to shorten their lives (Palmore, Branch, and Harris, 2016). The best part of the ageism and aging is that positive beliefs of employers and employees towards the elderly boost their mental health, as it increases their memory and balance (Sargeant, 2016). Due to the increasing aging population, I believe there is a need to educate society on the need to embrace ageism by not steaming on discrimination towards the elderly by maintaining a positive attitude.
Naegele, L., De Tavernier, W. and Hess, M. (2018). Contemporary Perspectives on Ageism. Work Environment and the Origin of Ageism, 19, pp.73-90.
Palmore, E. B., Branch, L., & Harris, D. (2016). Encyclopedia of ageism. Routledge.
Sargeant, M. (2016). Age discrimination: Ageism in employment and service provision. Routledge.
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