Ageism in Canada: Older Women Face More Discrimination Than Men, But Are More Optimistic About Aging, Research Reveals

Tuesday, July 2 2013

TORONTOJuly 2, 2013 /CNW/ - Canadians treat aging men and women differently, according to research from Revera Inc., a Canadian leader in seniors' accommodation, care and services.  According to The Revera Report on Ageism: A Look at Gender Differences, developed in partnership with the International Federation on Ageing, Canadian women 66-plus are more likely than men to be treated unfairly or differently because of their age (68 per cent versus 57 per cent). This translates into women aged 66-plus reporting more often that they are ignored or treated like they are invisible (46 per cent versus 32 per cent); they are also more likely to say people have assumed they are incompetent (32 per cent versus 18 per cent).

"We have a tendency to treat all seniors as a homogenous group, but this research shows that even amongst men and women there are significant differences in their aging experience," says Dr. Amy D'Aprix, gerontologist.  "It also shows how complex the issue of ageism is. We not only need to be more age aware, we also have to be aware of the role that other factors, such as the intersection of ageism and sexism, may play in the experience of older women."

Interestingly, Canadian seniors 66-plus are optimistic about aging, with women having the most positive attitude about getting older.  In fact, when asked to measure their outlook on aging, 61 per cent of women and 53 per cent of men reported being optimistic. Women 66-plus are more likely than men to agree with the statement "age is just a number" (47 per cent versus 33 per cent), and associate aging with positive developments from becoming wiser and more self-assured to being happier and a better version of oneself (75 per cent versus 63 per cent).

According to Dr. D'Aprix, while women 66-plus experience the impact of ageism more deeply, their sunnier outlook on aging could be linked to their stronger social circles. Females typically surround themselves with friends and family for support from a young age, whereas males are less likely to be as socially connected. In an earlier Revera study, conducted by Leger, The Research Intelligence Group, 86 per cent of women 75-plus strongly agreed that regular social interaction with others is important to aging successfully, versus 72 per cent of men.

"Being socially active as we age helps us build a positive mindset and a fulfilling life," said Dr. D'Aprix. "The power of positive social interaction can have a real impact on emotional and physical health and this report is a good reminder that we all need to be purposeful about ensuring we have enough social interaction in our daily lives, just like we pay attention to how much sleep or exercise we get."

Joan, 82, resident at Revera's Leaside Retirement Residence in Toronto, is an example of a woman with an optimistic outlook and strong social connections.  To read Joan's story and others visit AgeisMore.com, a unique online destination launched in 2012, where Canadians of all ages are encouraged to learn more about ageism and its impact, take the "Are You Age Aware" self-assessment quiz and get tips from the experts on how to be more age inclusive.

"Older women and men are individuals with unique needs and life experiences," says Trish Barbato, Senior Vice President, Home Health & Business Development at Revera Inc. "Once we start recognizing these differences and treating all people with respect we will be one step closer to building an age inclusive Canada."

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