2019 marks 50 years since the first use of ‘ageist’

Robert Neil Butler (January 21, 1927 – July 4, 2010) was a physician, gerontologist, psychiatrist, and author, who was the first director of the National Institute on Aging. Butler is known for his work on the social needs and the rights of older people and for his research on healthy aging and the dementias. He coined the term ageism in 1969 to describe discrimination against older people.

“A process of systematic stereotyping of and discrimination against people because they are old, just as racism and sexism accomplish this for gender and skin colour”

Britain has one of the worst records in Europe on age discrimination according to the European Social Survey 2009, with nearly two out of five people claiming to have been shown a lack of respect because of how old they are. 

Although I couldn’t find any specific pronouncement against ageism from the Church, Catholic Teaching supports the dignity of all people (from the unborn to the elderly) and is against discrimination. That means that, by implication, the Church is against ageism and is for the respectful treatment of people of all age.

Rachel Walker


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