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Jane Barrat HS

Dr. Jane Barratt

Secretary General, International Federation on Ageing

“Age” cannot and should not define who we are, what we do and how we do it.  And yet, older people are often referred to as frail, vulnerable, a burden on society (and our health care systems) and sometimes even their family.  This narrative is not only outdated, it is incorrect and unacceptable.  In fact, older people are often known for their resilience because of adversity, and their ongoing skill in negotiating and overcoming challenges and losses over time. 

Combating ageism, the way we think (stereotypes), feel (prejudice) and act (discrimination) towards others or ourselves based on age must be at the heart of a new narrative about growing older.

The brutal nature of ageism has been exposed during the pandemic.  It damages the health and dignity of individuals as well as economies and societies and denies people their human rights and their ability to reach their full potential.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Report on Ageism, self-directed ageism is linked to poorer physical health, and it impedes our recovery from disability.  It also contributes to social isolation and loneliness, and in turn, has serious impacts on health and longevity. 

Ageing is a natural and lifelong process that, while universal, is not uniform and while ageism is everywhere it can be stopped!  Policies and law can address discrimination, inequality based on age and protect the human rights of everyone. Educational activities can transmit knowledge, skills and enhance empathy. Inter-generational programs can contribute to the mutual understanding and cooperation of different generations

The rights of older people are human rights, so join the International Federation on Ageing to combat ageism through the global campaign.  Join arms across sectors, disciplines and generations to create an environment that enables and empowers older people to do what they have reason to value.

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