A recent article in JAMA explores the prevalence of everyday ageism among US older adults and its association with health

Past studies have suggested that significant incidents of ageism are associated with poorer health outcomes among older adults. However, we know less about the impact of more commonplace types of age-based discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping that they encounter in their everyday lives. To explore the prevalence of everyday ageism and its relationship with health, researchers conducted a study using The Everyday Ageism Scale which assesses the amount of routine ageism participants reported experiencing in their daily lives and the 2-item Patient Health Questionnaire. 


Results Among 2035 adults ages 50 to 80 years (1047 [54.2%] women; 192 Black [10.9%], 178 Hispanic [11.4%], and 1546 White [71.1%]), most participants (1915 adults [93.4%]) reported regularly experiencing 1 or more forms of everyday ageism. Internalized ageism was reported by 1664 adults (81.2%), ageist messages by 1394 adults (65.2%), and interpersonal ageism by 941 adults (44.9%). Disparities and differences exist across demography, however. The mean Everyday Ageism Scale scores were higher for several sociodemographic groups, including adults ages 65 to 80 years vs those ages 50 to 64 years (11.23 vs 9.55 ) as well as White (10.43) and Hispanic (10.09) adults vs Black adults (9.23).

Why does this matter? Higher levels of everyday ageism were associated with an increased risk of negative physical and mental health outcomes examined in the analyses for depressive symptoms and chronic health conditions. Internalized ageism was the category associated with the greatest increase in risk of poor outcomes for all health measures. 

Bottom Line

This study found everyday ageism to be prevalent among US adults ages 50 to 80 years. These findings suggest that commonplace ageist messages, interactions, and beliefs may be harmful to health and that multilevel and multisector efforts may be required to reduce everyday ageism and promote positive beliefs, practices, and policies related to aging and older adults.

Read the full article here: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2793359