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Home » Advocacy » Rebelling Against Ageism: Why Generations Should Join Forces

Ageism erodes solidarity between generations, even though it affects all age groups. We can all do something about it.

Headshot of Benedicte Schoepflin

Benedicte Schoepflin

Executive Director, Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (CNPEA)

Raeann Rideout Headshot

Raeann Rideout

Director of Provincial Partnerships & Outreach, Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario (EAPO)

Quick test:

Have you recently struggled to find a birthday card without a crass joke about aging or becoming “senile”?

Have you read a headline pitting generations against each other (for example, “How Baby Boomers Are the Real Problem” or “Why Gen Z Ruins Everything”)?

Have you heard someone make a value judgment based on a coworker’s age (such as saying someone is “too young to know what they’re doing” or “too old to adapt”)? If you answered yes to any of these, then you’ve encountered ageism.

Another -ism?

A recent World Health Organization report defines ageism as “stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel), and discrimination (how we act) directed towards people on the basis of their age.” Worldwide, one in two people hold ageist views. The issue is rampant, unrecognized, and commonly self-inflicted. Worse, ageism erodes solidarity between generations, even though it affects all age groups.

Whether in the job market, housing, or health care, old and young people alike report experiencing ageism and its consequences — financial insecurity, poor mental and physical health, loneliness, and isolation. Ageism quietly breeds inequity and injustice in all aspects of our lives. When it intersects with other forms of discrimination —based on gender, disability, race, sexual orientation, and so on— it can severely affect a person’s health and well-being.

For organizations like ours that work to prevent elder abuse and neglect, educating people about ageism is key. How can you protect someone who has become invisible to you? How can we support seniors adequately if our infrastructures and policies aren’t designed with older people in mind? How can we build healthy, caring communities if we don’t consider all stages of life? We’re all older Canadians in training. How we think about aging today will have a real impact on “future us.” 

What you can do

Learn to recognize ageism: From our daily language to the media we consume and the policies we develop, ask yourself, “Who is represented? Who isn’t? How?” 

Challenge it: Ageism is a human rights violation. Learn about your rights and speak up when something isn’t okay. Request and develop diversity, equity, and inclusion training about ageism at work.

Foster intergenerational relationships: Advocate for age-friendly and intergenerational initiatives in your community. Engage governments in co-creating opportunities to bridge generational gaps.

You’re never too young or too old, and it’s never too soon or too late, to stand up to ageism. Activism is the ultimate form of intergenerational bonding. Take action today, not only for today’s seniors but for our future selves.

To learn more about seniors’ rights and elder abuse prevention in Ontario, visit For information about elder abuse prevention and support services across Canada, visit

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