Older Persons’ Experiences of Ageism: A Qualitative Descriptive Study
Objective: The aim of this study was to understand how ageism impacts the self-perceptions of older persons. Methods: A qualitative descriptive study was conducted interviewing nine older persons to understand their experiences of ageism, using a semi-structured interview. Data were analyzed using content and thematic analysis. Findings: Three themes were developed from the data analysis: ‘Experiences of Ageism,’ ‘Resilience,’ and ‘Looking Forward.’ Participants discussed their personal experiences with ageism and those they witnessed other people experiencing. Despite negative experiences with ageism, participants had developed strategies to move forward in life that displayed resilience. They also had advice for how our society could strategize in diminishing ageism. Discussion: Ageism is insidious and subtly prevalent. In trying to explain why participants initially had trouble recalling instances of ageism we looked at two theories. Stereotype embodiment theory asserts that ageism is internalized. Social Emotional Selectivity theory suggests that as we age, we focus more on positive rather than negative experiences. Regardless of the cause of the subtlety of ageism, more awareness and education about ageism and ageing is needed. Conclusions: Understanding how ageism impacts older persons will provide insights into how we can create better interventions and resources to support this vulnerable population. Additional research is needed to more fully understand older people's experiences of ageism. Implications for practice: Nurses could foster awareness of ageism in their work with older persons and advocate for policies that diminish ageism in healthcare institutions.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).