Tackling Age Discrimination

Author: Samaritans CEO, Brad Webb

Recently I’ve been learning more about a campaign called ‘Every Age Counts’.

The campaign is tackling the issue of age discrimination and the impacts this has on the health, quality of life, job prospects and even confidence of older people.

Samaritans recently interviewed Dorothy, one of the grandparent carers at our Kinship Care program in Raymond Terrace. Dorothy spoke about the rewards of being able to help her family and her children by caring for her grandson. You can see Dorothy’s full video via the Samaritans Facebook page.

This week is a chance to celebrate the contribution and value of older people, as it’s NSW Senior’s Week. I believe Dorothy and her Kinship Care peers exemplify what it means to contribute to family and to the wider community.

We spoke further to Dorothy off-camera about her thoughts on the Every Age Counts campaign, and I share her thoughts here with permission:

“As you get older, sometimes your people around you, even family, think you don’t function as well. But I can tell you my brain functions very well, so does my eyesight, my hearing and my memory!

I have felt age discrimination before. Just as an example; you know sometimes when you have to go to the hospital or specialists, you can’t drive home so you have to have a driver to go and bring you home again?  A few times I’ve had a friend take me to these appointments, and the secretary or nurse talks to the person I’m with instead of me. They ask the questions to them. They treat me like a lesser person in my own right.

I said once, “Hi, I’m here; I can see, I can hear, you can talk to me”. I was standing there being ignored. There’s nothing wrong with my language and my hearing.

She later apologised, the nurse admitting me at that appointment. She said she felt bad because she took my right to independence away from me in that moment. She said that me speaking up taught her something, and she will never do that again to an elderly person.

That never leaves me, that feeling. It takes your dignity away.”

I believe this perspective is an important addition to the Senior’s Week celebrations this week.

In celebrating and recognising the contribution of older people, we must also tackle underlying stereotypes that feed the discrimination negatively impacting older people.

You can read more about the Every Age Counts campaign here: https://www.everyagecounts.org.au/.

Below is a TED talk you may be interested in: