‘Are you ageist?’ – Older people’s perceptions of ageism in Northern Ireland

This recent report by the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland (COPNI) details findings on ageism from extensive consultations carried out with older people in Northern Ireland.

The report finds that almost half of older people have experienced ageism, showing that more needs to be done to tackle age-based discrimination in Northern Ireland.

Main findings

  • Almost half (49%) of older people surveyed in Northern Ireland have experienced ageism.
  • Almost two thirds (65%) agreed that older people were viewed as a burden to society and taken less seriously as they have gotten older.
  • The vast majority (87%) believe that more government engagement is needed to tackle ageism and ageist attitudes.
  • An overwhelming 95% agreed that older people have a lot to contribute to the workplace.
  • Almost two thirds (63%) felt that modern workplaces do not cater for older people.


The report also includes a number of recommendations for government, the media, employers and for society as a whole to address ageism in Northern Ireland and “help to ensure that the needs of our ageing population are met”. Here are some of these recommendations :

  • For employers – adopt age-inclusive policies and identify the factors that support older people in the workplace.
  • For government – enact equality legislation to ensure older people are legally protected to the same level in Northern Ireland as other UK regions and to recognise the importance of demographic change in the future Programme for Government by including an Outcome specific to older people.
  • For media – represent older people appropriately. Avoid clichés that are overly negative or positive. Do not present older people as an issue for younger people to address.
  • For everyone – use appropriate language when referring to older people. Speak to older people in the same way you would any other adult age group. When talking about older people, avoid clichés, derogatory terms, and negative language.

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