Ageism in a Covid Age

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2021 Virtual Retired Members Conference
29 June 2021
Carried as Amended

This Retired Members’ Conference recognises that ageism exists, and that ageism is a bias from one age group towards another. It includes the use of stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination against people based on their age.

Evidence shows ageism is widespread in society and can be found everywhere from our workplaces and health systems to the stereotypes we see on TV, advertising and in the media. In the UK ageism is the most prevalent form of discrimination amongst all age groups, with one in three people experiencing age-based prejudice or discrimination.

Common ageist themes that affect people in later life include:

? Pitting younger and older generations against each other.

? Reducing older people to stereotypes.

? Portraying later life as a time of frailty and decline.

This Conference understands that for older people, the fear of ageism has intensified during this period of the Covid pandemic. Some of the language and framing of issues has been deeply troubling, from labelling all people aged over 70 as ‘vulnerable’ to the questioning of the value of protecting people in later life. The use of the term ‘elderly’ can be very offensive to many of this union’s mature members.

To give one specific area of concern which arose during lockdown was seen in Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) decisions being made without consulting either the person or their family

For many members the way we talk about ageing influences how we feel about the ageing process and how we act towards people in other age groups. One of the biggest obstacles to embracing later life is that the way we think and talk about ageing?is consistently negative.

Contrary to media representations of intergenerational conflict, 80% of people believe older adults have a wealth of experience and perspectives to offer society today

This Conference calls upon the National Retired Members Committee to work with the National Executive Council, National Service Groups, National Self Organised Groups, National Young Members Group and all appropriate staff to actively campaign internally within UNISON and externally with the TUC and the Labour Link to:-

i)Challenge ageism in everyday conversations?and ensure that no UNISON literature or press coverage contains anything that could be interpreted as ageist language, and that all such literature is supportive of older people.

ii)In the routine monitoring of press coverage, challenge ageist inferences by the press and media.

iii)Cover this issue in literature produced by UNISON nationally such as the U magazine.

iv)Work with other appropriate interested organisations such as the Third Age Trust to promote the interests of older people.