Ageism: A conversation in the context of COVID-19

COTA Victoria recently hosted an online event Ageism: a conversation in the context of COVID-19 with special guest speaker Dr Marlene Krasovitsky, Director of the national ageism campaign EveryAGE Counts.

Run by the Benevolent Society, EveryAGE Counts’ vision is a society where every person is valued, connected and respected regardless of age and health.  They define ageism as stereotyping, discrimination and mistreatment based solely upon age.

Dr Krasovitsky was introduced by COTA volunteer and Policy Development Committee member Rhonda Day, herself a mother and grandmother, who shared her reflections on ageism in the pandemic.

The keynote speaker highlighted the need for solidarity as crucial to get through this crisis and recover even stronger.

“Every life is equal and every human deserves respect and equal access to the right care, regardless of their age or health/ability status. We reject any argument or suggestion that any life is expendable or inherently more valuable than another,” Dr Krasovitsky said.

“During this crisis we need, as individuals and a society, to work together and hold onto our morals and ethics that values all lives.  It is in all our interests to do this. Intergenerational solidarity – between young and old – has never been more important and we are seeing many great examples of people of all ages reaching out across the generations.”

During the event, Dr Krasovitsky said deep-seated ageist attitudes toward older people had emerged in five main themes, which she summarised as key talking point messages for people’s spheres of influence:

  1. Every life is equal and every human deserves respect and equal access to the right care. The value of life is not age dependent.
  2. Language matters – listen to how things are framed, avoid using ‘the elderly’ as a shorthand that lumps together all older people. We are not all the same and age is not a meaningful criterion to describe our great diversity.
  3. In any ‘rationing of care’ scenario, individualised assessment of a person’s particular health status is the basis upon which decisions should made. Age alone should never be used as the criterion to ration care. Clinicians and policy makers, check your ageism at the door.
  4. When we see negative messages emerging about older people – or about younger people – stand up against ageism and stand for a caring and compassionate society upholding human rights of all.
  5. As we emerge from restrictions we are all welcome back in our communities. We are all valued and we all have a contribution to make. Include older people in recovery planning and stand up for intergenerational solidarity.

Dr Krasovitsky’s speech is available at Ageism: A conversation in the context of COVID-19

EveryAGE Counts hosted its own ageism event with USA activist Ashton Applewhite and Australian commentator Jane Caro the 24 November. To watch the video of this event go to Beyond 2020: What’s Ageism Got to do with it?

To listen to a podcast of Ashton speaking to COTA Victoria about ageism last year, go to Addressing Ageism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *