Discrimination And Its Effects On The Elderly Population

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North America is experiencing a rapid growth in its elderly population. For instance, as of 2001, seniors accounted for 13% of the Canadian population and projections indicate that this number will rise to 25% by 2036 (Chappell, McDonald, &, Stones, 2003). This rapid expansion necessitates a critical understanding of the requirements of the elderly and removing obstacles that hinder people from reaching their full potentials in later years. In conjunction with other obstacles, the elderly are especially prone to experiencing negative stereotypes on the basis of age alone: Ageism (Odoms, 1992). This type of discrimination has serious implications such as obstructing opportunities, increasing susceptibility to abuse, imposing stress, and damaging self worth (Angus, 2006). Unfortunately, as Angus (2006) points out, ageism is “widespread, generally accepted, and largely ignored”. Two factors make ageism a unique and contemptible form of discrimination. Firstly, advances in medicine and social structure have led to an increase in life expectancy and the proportion of the population that experiences old age, and in extension, ageism. Secondly, long held negative views have a hampering impact on self-esteem when a person reaches old age (Laditka, Fischer, Laditka, & Segal, 2004). For this reason, combatting ageist attitudes is important for inspiring positive social interactions and a healthy self-image. Ageist attitudes manifest and embed themselves into society in many
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