Ageism refers to any type of abuse, prejudice and discrimination against the elderly. This term was introduced in sociology in 1968 by Dr. Robert Butler, an American advocate for the rights and needs of the elderly.
Sociologists suppose that the phenomenon of ageism takes sources from natural human fear of growing older, loosing personal appeal, abilities and functions, along with fears of sicknesses and death. There are such sub-types of ageism as adultism, jenuism, adultcentrism and others.
According to the study conducted by the International Longevity Center in the U.S., in modern society old people suffer from unprecedented abuse. The most common types of such abuse include discrimination in nursing homes, emergency services and other health care facilities, workplace discrimination, and also discrimination in media and marketing.
The main discrimination facts are the tendency not to pay attention on emotional disturbance of older people in favor of being concerned about depression problems of the youth, as well as abusing image of old people in modern advertising (Ageism in America, 2006).
The concept of ageism seriously conflicts with some traditional social, cultural, moral and religious codes. In many societies older people hold the position of authorities, have seniority rights and serve as guarantors of power or family values.
Their knowledge and experience are highly valued, that is why in many families the elderly have the power of decision making. Unfortunately, contemporary society becomes more and more reluctant and aggressive, that is why every third older American is estimated to be a victim of some type of abuse (Ageism in America, 2006).
Ageism in America. (2006). The Report of the International Longevity Center. Retrieved June 15, 2007, from: <http://www.ilcusa.org/_lib/pdf/Ageism%20in%20America%20-%20The%20ILC%20Report.pdf>.