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Standing up to Ageism

Older Women Laughing

20 March 2024

Our friends at the Centre for Ageing Better have declared today the first annual Ageism Action Day, an opportunity for people of all ages to tackle the negative myths and stereotypes around ageing, and in doing so improve the lives of older people.

Tackling ageism lies at the heart of what Age Scotland does. As Scotland’s national charity for older people we are constantly working to promote positive views of ageing and counter the tired narratives that make older people feel unheard and undervalued.

Here are two of our key initiatives aimed at challenging ageist attitudes and amplifying older voices in Scotland.

Our Media Guide: Making Ageism Old News

Ageist attitudes are rife in the workplace, in health and social care and in the media. Our Big Survey provided a voice for older people across Scotland and revealed that just 7% agreed that older people are represented positively in the media.

According to research by the Centre for Better Ageing, two-thirds of the news stories analysed portrayed older people in a negative way, painting a picture of older people as being in ill-health, victims, or a burden on society. The way that older people are portrayed in the media, adverts and in Parliament can have a direct impact on people’s attitudes to ageing, the way older people are viewed by society, and the way that older people view themselves.

This guide aims to help stakeholders, including politicians and the media improve how they talk about older people by avoiding ageist and negative stereotypes in the messages and images they use.

Read our guide to reporting on older people at  

 Commissioner for Older People campaign

Along with a number of other organisations, Age Scotland is campaigning for a Commissioner for Older People for Scotland.

The Commissioner would strengthen older people's voices and act as an independent champion ensuring they’re considered in decisions made right across Government.

We have long held the view that a Commissioner is needed in Scotland and asked prospective MSPs ahead of the 2021 Scottish Parliament election to back this proposal.

A Commissioner would be appointed by Scottish Parliament to act independently of the Scottish Government to protect the rights of older people. They would have scope to focus on a range of issues that are important to older people - for example highlighting ageism and age discrimination, ensuring access to services including health and social care, tackling poverty, and challenging digital exclusion.

The role would involve:

  • Raising awareness of the interests of older people in Scotland and of the need to safeguard those interests.
  • Promoting the provision of opportunities for, and the elimination of discrimination against, older people in Scotland.
  • Encouraging best practice in the treatment of older people in Scotland.
  • Keeping under review the adequacy and effectiveness of law affecting the interests of older people in Scotland.
  • Undertaking investigations into how service providers take account of the rights, interests, and views of older people in the decisions they take and the work they do in relation to devolved matters. 

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about this campaign, please get in touch - / 0333 323 2400