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Are We Ageist?

Published 07/12/2022


(07 December 2022) 

1 in 4 people experience age discrimination according to Age Action’s new poll Are We Ageist?, conducted by IrelandThinks, with people who were unemployed more than twice as likely to experience age discrimination as people with any other work status. ​

“Age Action is working to reframe how we think, feel and act towards older people and ageing in Ireland, so we commissioned a public poll to understand the degree to which we hold ageist opinions in our society. The public poll reveals that most people in Ireland hold some ageist opinion with people aged 18-34 more than two and a half times as likely to agree with three or more ageist opinions” explained Celine Clarke, Head of Advocacy and Public Affairs at Age Action.

“Ageism, like any other form of prejudice, has a negative impact on our wellbeing and the way in which we experience day-to-day life in our homes, communities and workplaces. Age Action’s poll reveals that despite age being one of the protected grounds under Equality legislation, older people continue to experience discrimination particularly in the labour market” said Clarke.


In national surveys, 4% of older persons experience work-related discrimination in 2019, up from 0% in 2004, and 8% experienced discrimination accessing services, up from 6% in 2004.

Not only can ageist opinions shape how we think and feel about others we perceive as ‘old’ or ‘young’, they can also shape how we feel about our own ageing process. Self-directed ageism is where people internalise ageist opinions that they have been repeatedly exposed to over their lives.

“Age Action’s poll shows that people aged 75+ are nearly three times as likely to hold ageist opinions than those aged 55-64, showing that they have internalised negative stereotypes about ageing. Self-directed ageism can result in people conforming to their society’s age stereotypes, which can affect their physical and mental health,” said Dr Nat O’Connor, Policy Specialist with Age Action.

Narratives that promote older age as a period of inevitable decline or that an ageing population is a crisis can promote tensions between generations and contribute to ageism.

“23% of respondents agree with the statement that older persons get more than their fair share from public services, which is the strongest predictor that a person will hold other ageist opinions. More research is needed on ageism to understand the full extent of the problem in Ireland. In addition, there is often a lack of appropriate data or statistics collected, which makes it more difficult to determine how policies affect older people. More age-sensitive practices are required in official data collection” said O’Connor.



Age Action Awarded Investing In Volunteers National Quality Standard

Age Action is delighted to announce that we have been awarded the Investing in Volunteers quality standard. Investing in Volunteers (IiV) is the national quality standard for good practice in volunteer management in Ireland.

The Investing in Volunteers standard assesses the organisation’s volunteering programme in six areas: vision for volunteering, planning for volunteers, volunteer inclusion, recruiting and welcoming volunteers, supporting volunteers, and valuing and developing volunteers. As part of the process, we completed a self-assessment of our volunteering programme, and with the assistance of an Investing in Volunteers mentor, we then put together an improvement plan. Over the course of the assessment forty of our volunteers were interviewed as well as staff and board members.

Every year, hundreds of people volunteer with Age Action in our Getting Started digital literacy programme, and with our Care and Repair DIY Service. We would like to thank all of our wonderful volunteers who bring their time, energy and skills to Age Action and are the reason that our volunteering programme is so impactful. Volunteers are at the heart of our programmes and services at Age Action and without our volunteers we couldn’t fulfil our mission to support older people to live full and independent lives. Achieving the Investing in Volunteers quality standard shows our commitment to providing an experience that reflects how much we value our volunteers.

Here’s what some of our Volunteers said as part of the process:

‘I’ve gained a lot of skills from volunteering.  It has built my confidence in teamworking and communication.’

‘It keeps me active being able to help people and improve their quality of life’. 

‘I think they’ve got it just right with the amount of information to keep you in touch.  The monthly newsletter let’s you see what’s going on”.

“Emails keep you informed.  They are very willing to take suggestions on board, they encourage you to give them feedback’.

Going through the Investing in Volunteers process has helped us to review and improve our volunteering programme in its entirety, from how we recruit, train and support volunteers, to how we communicate with and involve our volunteers at all levels of the organisation. As we celebrate achieving the standard, we reiterate our commitment to providing the best possible volunteering experience for our volunteers who make an incredible difference in the lives of those older people we serve.