Thesis

How people aged sixty and older perceive prejudice and discrimination: an analysis of the factors that affect people's attitudes towards growing older

This study explores older adults’ (aged 60 and up) perceptions about prejudiced attitudes and discriminatory behaviors as they move through the aging process. The purpose of this study is to understand the factors that affect how older adults perceive prejudice and discrimination, and whether the characteristics of old-ageism can have much in common with those characteristics surrounding prejudice and discrimination. The methodology followed in this study was phenomenology. The objective of this study was to understand the personal experience and feelings of the subjects about experiencing (or not experiencing) prejudice and discrimination based on their age. Literature reviewed in this paper focused on several main factors relating to stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups because of their age. These factors included employment, ageist words and aging stereotypes, mass media and advertising. The literature review established that older adults are often targets of prejudice, and that the factors listed above reinforced the explicit and implicit attitudes and beliefs toward older people and old age. The literature also demonstrated a link between the effects of these factors, and how they perpetuate the negative image of aging. Participants in this study included 15 residents aged 60 and older living in an affordable, independent housing complex for seniors in Northern California. Findings from this study were sought to expand current knowledge regarding prejudicial attitudes towards older people, discriminating practices against older people, and how institutional practices and policies can perpetuate stereotypes about older people. The results from this study may strengthen the current understanding about what kinds of prejudice and discrimination elderly people may face because of their age.

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