Quarter of millennials ‘believe depression is normal in older age'

Researchers want to ban the phrase ‘anti-ageing' from cosmetics to help improve attitudes towards getting older.

A quarter of millennials believe depression is normal in older age, while two in five 18 to 24-year-olds see dementia as inevitable, a study has found.

Half of women and a quarter of men say they feel pressure to stay looking young, while two-thirds of the public have no friends with an age gap of 30 years or more.

Attitudes to ageing and older people are nearly three times more positive among those from black ethnic backgrounds.

The report by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), in partnership with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, evaluated ageist attitudes across 12 areas of life.

It found that the public are most ageist about appearance, memory loss and participation in physical and community activities.

Millennials – those aged 18 to 34 – have the most negative attitudes to ageing of all the age groups, with a quarter believing it is normal for older people to be unhappy and depressed.

Two in five 18 to 24-year-olds believe there is no way to escape dementia as people age.

Researchers are calling for policy changes to help re-shape the nation’s view of ageing in a more positive way.

These include an end to the term ‘anti-ageing’ in the cosmetics and beauty industry and positive ageing to be addressed within schools.

Nurseries and care-homes should be under the same roof to bring generations together, RSPH says.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation should include ‘age’ in the editors’ code of conduct as a characteristic by which journalists must not discriminate, they advise.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of RSPH, said: “Too often ageist behaviour and language is trivialised, overlooked, or even served up as the punchline to a joke – something we would rightly not tolerate with other forms of prejudice.

“Our report shows that ageist attitudes abound in society and have a major impact on the public’s health, and yet they are rarely treated with the seriousness they deserve.

“With more people reaching older age than ever before, it is crucial to act now to promote positive integration across the generations.

“It is indeed encouraging that the majority of the public still believes that, fundamentally, the old and young have more in common than divides them.

“If we can begin to remove the stubborn barriers that reinforce societal ageism, we can expect many more to look forward to later life as a period of opportunity for growth and new experiences, rather than a set of mental and physical challenges.”

The report found more than two thirds of the public agreed that “fundamentally” older people are no different than those of other ages.

In the research, entitled About That Age Old Question, 2,000 adults in the UK were asked to complete a survey.

Questions were focused on 12 areas – participation in activities, memory, appearance, physical health, personal growth, role in society, social connections, impression of ageing, personality, independence and control, happiness and emotional stability and wisdom.

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