What is Ageism?

Ageism is social discrimination!
Ageism is social discrimination!


Besides racism and sexism, ageism seems to be one of the most tolerated social prejudices in Canada. In fact, Canadians are depriving elders of the freedom of choice to aging well. According to a recent report released by Revera and the Sheridan Centre for Elder Research Revera Report on Ageism: Independence and Choice As We Age, has launched a $20 million commitment called the Revera Innovators In Aging program, that intends to help seniors maintain their independent lifestyle.

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According to Thomas Wellner, President and CEO of Revera, “Ageism is the next great social issue that demands our attention, and together, individuals, organizations and governments need to take action. In addition to conducting research on ageism and raising awareness of this issue through our Age is More initiative, Revera is committing $20 million to fund entrepreneurs who have developed innovative new products and services that will enhance the aging experience and help seniors live life to the fullest.”

Ageism: A Widespread Canadian Issues 

Ageism is out!
Ageism is out!


So here’s the facts from the Revera report regarding ageism in Canada:

  • More than 4 in 10 Canadians think that ageism is the most tolerated form of social prejudice; more than racism (20 per cent) and sexism (17 per cent).
  • 1 in 4 (25%) Canadians – from Gen Y to Boomers — admit they have treated elderly differently.
  • More than half (51 per cent) of Canadians ages 77+ report that others assume they cannot do things independently.
  • 1 in 4 (26%) respondents 77+ report that, because of their age, people make decisions for them without asking their preference.

The Importance of Independence: A Perception Gap


Infographic highlighting findings from the Revera Report on Ageism: Independence and Choice As We Age, along with tips on how to combat ageism. (CNW Group/Revera Inc.)
Infographic highlighting findings from the Revera Report on Ageism: Independence and Choice As We Age, along with tips on how to combat ageism. (CNW Group/Revera Inc.)


Even 95-year-old former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion is taking a stance claiming, “Ageism is getting old! Every person, young or old, can live life with purpose. This purpose doesn’t end when you get older; society must recognize that older people can and want to continue to make a contribution, and this begins with tackling ageism.”

So Canadians should be aware there is a perception gap. Just because someone may be an elderly person, it doesn’t mean that they cannot make their own decisions or live independently. Most of the time, they can handle anything that comes their way because they have a whirlwind of experience!

The majority of Canadian agree that independence is essential, but young adults turn a blind eye when it comes to the elderly in Canada:

  • 100 % of Canadians, in every age group, agree that living independently is important to them personally.
  • However, young adults between the ages 20-34 are more than 5 times as likely (21 per cent) to say that independence is not  important to those older than 75+ years of age.

How To Combat Ageism 

Ageism discrimination stops with you.
Ageism discrimination stops with you.

The Ageism report from Revera includes several recommendations, among them:

  • For non-seniors: Try not assume about what older adults want or can do. More than 50% of Canadians over the age of  77 feel others assume they cannot do things for themselves. Everyone should remove this prejudice and encourage elderly people to make their own decisions about what they want.
  • For seniors: Don’t let yourself be defined by your age. Ever head the saying “Age is just a number”? Live by this mantra and you can help others remember that they too aren’t defined by their age.
  • For policy makers: Include the voice of older Canadians. Older Canadians over the age of 75+, should take part in public policy discussions to ensure their needs are addressed.
  • For companies and organizations: Invest in catering products and services that serve elderly independent living. Independent elderly individuals represent a large chunk of your demographics.

What do you think about ageism? What are you going to do to combat ageism? Post your comments below or let’s move the conversation to Twitter @Revera_Inc and don’t forget to ‘Like’ their Facebook page,Facebook.com/ReveraInc.