As populations age, more people will face ageism and other intersecting forms of discrimination. Policies and services must be adapted to reflect these changing population structures to ensure that everyone, young and old, has equitable access to services and entitlements.
Ageism happens when people face stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination based on their age. Because of ageism, older people are excluded from jobs and social services. It also increasingly underpins human rights violations such as elder abuse and financial exploitation. In many ways, ageism is the last socially accepted form of discrimination.
Older people are also discriminated against based on their sex and gender, disability, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Discrimination occurs in almost every major area of their lives—whether it’s at work, a health care facility, or even at home. This has compounding, debilitating effects on older people, especially older women.
Older people are at risk of abuse and violence in their own homes and in care facilities. Many are also denied the right to make decisions about their personal finances, property and medical care. They are often denied social security, health care, work, food and housing.
Protecting older people’s rights allows societies to better capitalize on the potential of their aging populations. There is clear evidence that when older people’s right to social security is realized, poverty rates go down and enrollment of children in schools goes up. When older people get back their dignity, they contribute to their communities in transformative ways.
HelpAge mobilizes older people to fight discrimination and claim their rights. Too often, older people are denied the right to make decisions for themselves–about where they want to live or the care they want to receive.
Through Age Demands Action, HelpAge's global, grassroots movement to fight age discrimination, we are supporting older people to advocate for a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Older People.
Violence and abuse do not stop happening to people after a certain age. HelpAge equips older people with knowledge about their rights and legal resources; collects data on violence against against older people; and facilitates access to support services.
The HelpAge Global Network facilitates a range of advocacy and research initiatives that advance older people's human rights. See our work in action.
Learn more about HelpAge’s grassroots, global campaign to end ageism, led and driven by our network of community-based organizations and older adults.
HelpAge advocates at the UN to ensure human rights are protected for people in old age. Learn how HelpAge advocates at the global level for a convention on the rights of older people.
A core part of HelpAge's work is reducing inequality, especially for older women. Learn more about HelpAge programs to advance women's rights and close the gender gap in old age.