An age-friendly city is a city that encourages active ageing by optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance the quality of life as people age - World Health Organisation
In a society that tends to focus on youth, the common negative images of age and ageing can result in disrespectful behaviour. Some ageism biases that sadly exist can result in older people feeling that they are not listened to and are a burden on society.
Bristol is often called a young and vibrant city but it is important to ensure that the nearly 30% of residents over 50 are respected and included within the city.
In the 2017 Quality of Life survey, 67% of respondents aged 50+ agreed that people treat others with respect in their neighbourhood, a figure that is similar to previous years and in line with the average for all ages in Bristol (68%).
During our conversations, a number of older people felt that they got less respected as they aged. One woman said:
“As soon as you go grey everyone ignores you. We need to be more like Latin American and Asia where elders are respected and not just seen as idiots. People are pushed into being old by society telling them they are, saying things like ‘oh aren’t you too old to do’ or ‘wow that’s a young person activity isn’t it?’ Then people might think ‘oh shoot, I shouldn’t be doing this’.”
Older people want to be recognised as an asset to their communities and a barrier seems to awareness of all of the ways they could contribute. Bristol has a broad range of projects to support older people to be more included in their communities, but many older people talk about decreasing confidence as a barrier to accessing these projects in the first place.
There are many organisations in Bristol working to tackle negative stereotypes by reducing inequalities and promoting positive images and stories about older people.
Bristol Ageing Better has undertaken a number of activities through its partners to improve older people’s confidence and to promote a better understanding between generations.