News Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging Health Equity

Center releases comprehensive background resource on ageism

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health

The Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging at the Institute for Public Health has developed and made available a background paper titled, “Understanding and Confronting Ageism.” The resource is designed “to provide foundational information and resources to reduce ageism in institutions of higher education and in the communities in which they are located.”

Available for download here, the paper defines ageism, its types and determinants; outlines its prevalence in the workplace, in housing and health care, in the media and in higher education. It identifies ways to reduce and/or eliminate ageism in our society; and provides resources devoted to aging and improving the understanding of ageism.

Ageism is pervasive in our society, but not often acknowledged — yet ageist stereotypes and discriminatory practices will catch up with all of us eventually. Increasing awareness about how we think, feel, and act toward aging and older people is the first step in creating a more age-just society. We hope that the educational materials produced by the Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging will contribute to a growing appreciation of the price we all pay in the face of ageism.

Nancy Morrow-Howell, PhD, MSW

In 2018, Washington University in St. Louis joined the Age-Friendly University (AFU) Global Network. Through this effort, the center formed the WashU for Life Initiative to create and promote age-inclusive efforts across Washington University, and to generate awareness of the often-overlooked issue of ageism.   

Part of the center’s efforts are the creation and dissemination of tools such as this new background piece on ageism. It includes published research, conducted at WashU and elsewhere, on the impact of ageism, and the outcomes of several center focus groups that tackled the challenges and opportunities associated with increasing age-diversity on the WashU campus. The paper also summarizes some of the deep-seeded ageism and societal aging stereotypes that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it identifies various assumptions commonly associated with older adults.

The Friedman Center has recently released several other tools and resources on the themes of ageism and age inclusivity. Read about those here. Visit the center’s resource page to find informative issue briefs and infographics on aging along with local and regional resources on supporting our aging society.

The Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging at the Institute for Public Health works to advance a global society where people of all ages have maximum opportunity for health, security and engagement.