Ageism – 7 of 10 older people report being victims of age prejudice in Southern Belgium


Stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination against older people are everywhere in society. This is once again reflected in the figures from the survey published in September 2021 by Amnesty International in French-speaking Belgium.

“Ageism is omnipresent and yet goes largely unnoticed. However, age-related stereotypes and prejudices have serious consequences, such as exclusion, discrimination, neglect and violence towards older people.”
Philippe Hensmans, director of the French-speaking Belgian section of Amnesty

The survey conducted in May among 550 French-speaking people aimed to

  • measure the extent of ageism and how it is perceived by the over-55s,
  • to identify the profiles of the victims and the sectors particularly affected.

Individual and society: a different experience

From an individual perspective ageing seems to be perceived more positively than from a collective, societal perspective. According to the survey, people aged 55+ have generally a positive view of themselves and ageing. Yet, in a social context, this well-being becomes more nuanced, as shows some of the findings:

  • 7 out of 10 older people are victims of prejudice because of their age.
    Those prejudices mainly refer to the lack of digital skill (48%), lack of understanding of younger generations (28%), frailty and have mobility impairments (24%), poor understanding of what is being said (22%), more sight problems (21%).
  • The higher the age, the stronger the feeling of ‘alienation’ of older people in and from the rest of society;
  • 1 in 4 seniors have experienced at least one form of elder abuse;
  • People over 55 have more difficulty to find a job, and at work, almost one in four 55+ feel that they were treated differently (taken less seriously, given less responsibility, etc.).

Gender and minority issues

  • Women are more affected than men by the way society looks at them;
  • Minority seniors are more affected by the lack of consideration;
  • Older women and minority older people are more likely to be victims of abuse, with seniors over 75 and minority seniors being more likely to be neglected and women being more prone than men to devaluation, humiliation, infantilisation and denigration of value.

Read more in French

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