Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas 2009: Young and Old

A recent BMJ article quoted some research into how articles published between January 1997 and April 2008 the Economist dealt with ageing. Most featured pensions, demography, and politics. Of these 64% portrayed population ageing as a burden and 12% as a benefit; 24% had a balanced view. Most articles therefore showed a predominantly ageist view of older people as a burden on society, often portraying them as frail non-contributors. Recurrent themes included pension and demographic "time bombs" and future unsustainable costs of health care for older people. The researchers concluded that this negative view of older people might be influential in shaping the attitudes of readers, who include opinion formers in political and economic circles. Gerontologists (including geriatricians) need to engage with influential media, as well as helping to promote a professional development of journalists that is informed and knowledgeable about the negative impact of ageism on the wellbeing of older people. Amen to that!

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