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4.29.22 – Ageism and Seniority

Friday, April 29, 2022

Ageism and Seniority

For the month of April, our committee investigated how attitudes about age might affect our relationship with one another. Ageism is our stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel), and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age. Ageism affects everyone, both the oldest and the youngest, and when younger people experience it, it is called reverse age. Many have negative attitudes about age and often, it can be self-directed ageism. This is that negative self-talk about our own age.

We heard that working with age groups different from our own felt unappreciated, disrespected, and were treated differently because of age and/or seniority. Does seniority affect how we see one another, and could it stir up ageist thoughts about one another?

It is not just the words we speak; it is the words we think, and, in a seniority-based system, age intertwines in this system with age playing off against one other, with ageist thoughts playing in our heads. Ageist thinking, feelings, and attitudes are often an unconscious bias, meaning we do not recognize we are doing it and how it impacts others and ourselves. It is the same driver that causes us to discriminate in any way. We use our differences to build ourselves up while marginalizing another.

Ageist attitudes do real damage to us and can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A Yale study about ageism found our lifespan and health are impacted on the way we think about ourselves and others as it relates to ageism. The negative impact on ageism affects us mentally, impacts our physical health, and shortens our life expectancy. This study was based on the global participation of over seven million people. The link to this study is through Yale School of Medicine:

Knowing all this, what can we do with our thoughts and feelings with one another and what can we do to stop ageist attitudes?

  • Be the voice of the other side of this story and embrace our age, whatever that age is and embrace the journey!
  • Look at everyone with an open heart, appreciating differences while discovering what we have in common.
  • Bring awareness by talking about what ageism is, and its’ negative impact.
  • Stand up to negative age attitudes by speaking out when we see it happening.


With more information about ageism, we found | Comprehensive Ageism Information & Education to be a valuable resource. As we continue to research ageism in our work, please share with us your own experiences with ageism and how we can continue to work on our ageist attitudes.

In Solidarity,

Chaddrian, Charlotte, and Rhonda
APFA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee

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