Skip to content

What is Age?

Unlike other equality strands age does not refer to a discrete group. We have all been young and will all hopefully become old. Age equality means people of every age can take part in society with respect for differences related to their age.

Age may refer to actual or perceived age – based on appearance or assumptions.

Age and Discrimination

Ageism can be very subtle but is common throughout society; it can affect wellbeing, damage confidence and create exclusion. Individuals can be subject to assumptions and different treatment based on their age or perceived age, no matter how old or young they are.

Older people in particular, are subject to stigma, prejudice and social isolation. Older people are often also the poorest in society, and some are vulnerable to abuse. 

Children and young people can also be discriminated against and are viewed with suspicion by society. Their lack of power means that their views are often ignored and they are also vulnerable to abuse.

Discrimination arises either because difference is ignored and therefore people’s needs are not met or difference is recognised but forms the basis of unfavourable treatment or stereotyping.

Age equality means that age should not be used to define or presume anything about the role, value or potential of an individual.

The following video is a short film by the Equality & Human Rights Commission titled ‘What is Age Discrimination’.

Age and Other Protected Characteristics

Age and Other Protected Characteristics

Age discrimination links to other forms of discrimination- 

  • Older people, especially older women are often on low incomes. This is caused by a combination of factors including the state pension not being linked to earnings and women being less likely to have occupational pensions of sufficient level.
  • Disability increases with age, especially visual impairment and blindness. 74.25% of those registered blind or partially sighted in Scotland are aged 65 or over.
  • Young people may be discriminated from exploring their sexuality and their gender identity by their family, at school or in hospital. LGBTQ+ young people may be less likely to express their sexuality or their gender identity due to fear of discrimination from family, friends and other young people. This can lead to low self-esteem and serious long-term negative health effects e.g. anxiety, depression and feeling suicidal.
  • Peer pressure can pressure young people into concealing their religious beliefs or practices, while overt symbols of faith make young people more likely to be victims of religious provocation.
  • Ageing may further reduce the ability to communicate for those for whom English is not their first language.
  • Teenage women living in areas of highest deprivation are four times more likely to become pregnant than those in the least deprived areas. ; Teenage women from the most deprived areas are more likely to deliver than to terminate their pregnancy. In contrast, those from the least deprived areas are more likely to terminate than to deliver their pregnancy.
  • The health of older people in Scotland varies according to social circumstances. The gap in life expectancy between the most affluent and deprived communities has widened significantly in the last 40 years, particularly among males. Life expectancy has either stopped increasing or has decreased in almost all council areas since 2012-2014.
  • Emergency hospital admissions as a result of unintentional injury are over 40% higher for children living in the most deprived areas.
Peoples Experiences

More information coming soon…

Support & Resources
How we are addressing age issues

How we are addressing age issues

A Fairer NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde 2020-24 sets out what the organisation is doing to ensure it meets its responsibilities to promote age equality and remove age discrimination across all its services and functions.

A ban on age discrimination within public services came into force in April 2012. This ban applies to people aged 18 years and over. It offers no protection to those aged under 18 years. Lack of protection under the Equality Act is mitigated to a small degree by the Scottish Government’s Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 which aims to ensure that children’s rights are upheld across the public sector.

NHSGGC is working to ensure no-one using our services is discriminated against on grounds of age or any other protected characteristic.

It is also working to raise awareness of the nature of direct and indirect age discrimination and our responsibilities under equalities legislation. This has included reviewing any age-based criteria for accessing services and changing to a needs-based approach to both service access and judgements and decisions about treatment and care.

Overall service planning is increasingly taking account of the changing age profile of the population and the impact this will have on demand for services. Awareness of the need to ensure age equality within our services informs this planning process. However, there are circumstances where a targeted approach to specific age groups is appropriate both when providing services and when consulting and involving individuals. For example, Sandyford sexual health services have been designed to ensure that they are accessible to young people and have the confidence of young people.

Increased protection for adults at risk of harm or neglect is in place through the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007. While the Act defines adults at risk as those aged 16 years and over, it provides protection to many older people with cognitive impairments such as dementia. 

Why age matters to health

Older People

Long life is a sign of good health, and the ageing of the world’s population is an indicator of improving health worldwide. Although there are no specific conditions or illnesses associated with ‘being old’, the older people get the more likely they may be to experience a range of different conditions such as chronic disease, cancer and disability and to experience more than one of these together.add info here…

Young People

Healthcare, lifestyle and experience in childhood and adolescence have a significant impact on physical and mental health in later life. Certain conditions particularly affect young people, such as some inherited problems, accidents and injury and sexual and mental health issues, or they may have different experiences of conditions which affect all ages.Add info here…

All Ages

Traditional assumptions about age related conditions are increasingly being challenged. People with conditions previously associated with childhood, e.g. cystic fibrosis, severe physical disability, are increasingly surviving into adulthood. Similarly, younger people may suffer from conditions previously associated with ‘old age’ such as dementia or the need for social care and support.Add info here…

Age Discrimination and Health

Age discrimination in health can lead to inappropriate treatment, misdiagnosis or reluctance from patients to get involved with health services. It may take some of the following forms:

  • Stereotyping of old age as being automatically linked to ill-health
  • Low expectations of older people’s mental capacity, leading to inappropriate behaviour or symptoms not being believed.
  • Health or social care support or treatments having upper or lower age limits.
  • Lack of support or time for meals, resulting in undernourishment
  • Young people being placed in adult wards
  • Information not produced with age group in mind
  • Judgemental attitudes
  • Confidentiality and anonymity not respected
  • Abuse or neglect or older or young people, in hospitals, care settings or at home
  • Denial of the right to make choices about health and personal affairs