The COVID-19 pandemic clearly unearthed the existence of global ageism; exposed first by the initial inertia to respond to the virus on the grounds that “COVID-19 only affected old people”. Further revealed by the triaging of hospital care based on “years left” in life, and the malignant discourse in social media, specifically, #BoomerRemover. We know that as societal ageism increases, so can self-ageism i.e., where older adults internalise negative stereotypes about their age (Levy, 2018). The principal aim of our study was to examine how self-ageism might affect social/emotional loneliness, depression, and COVID-19 specific health protective behaviours e.g., social distancing and wearing masks. We found that older adults who were more self-ageist were less likely to engage in health protective behaviours. We did not find significant relationships between the older adults’ health protective behaviours and depression, or loneliness. We also found older adults were less socially and emotionally lonely, less depressed, and less likely to engage in health-protective behaviours compared to younger adults. These findings suggest self-ageism was more of a threat to the older adults overall well being than loneliness and depression during the pandemic. We therefore argue that if self-ageism manifested from older adults measuring their value within the age-hostile milieu – created or worsened by the pandemic – then they would be less inclined to engage in behaviours that would protect them from COVID-19. These findings also have implications for older adults seeking other preventive health services during the pandemic.
|Publication status||First published - Jul 2022|
|Event||The British Society of Gerontology Conference - Online|
Duration: 7 Jul 2021 → 9 Jul 2021
|Conference||The British Society of Gerontology Conference|
|Period||7/07/21 → 9/07/21|