Globally, ageism affects billions of people.
The 'Global Report on Ageism' by WHO, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the UN Population Fund.
The Global Report on Ageism offers a clear and widely supported definition of ageism as the stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination directed towards people on the basis of their age. The report highlights that ageism can be institutional, interpersonal, or even self-directed.
In the COVID-19 pandemic the vulnerability of older people has been highlighted. Not only has the pandemic taken the lives of many older people, it has also exposed ageism in different settings—eg, discrimination in access to health care, inadequate protection of older people in care homes and of young people's mental health, and stereotypical media portrayals that pit generations against each other.
Ageism impacts all aspects of older people's health. For instance, it shortens their lifespan, worsens their physical and mental health, hinders recovery from disability, and accelerates cognitive decline. Ageism also exacerbates social isolation and loneliness and reduces access to employment, education, and health care, all of which impact health.
At least one in two people hold ageist attitudes against older adults, with rates much higher in lower-income countries. In Europe, the only region for which data about ageism are available for all age groups, one in three people have experienced ageism, with rates highest among 15–24 year olds.