People’s experiences of ageist language during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased over the course of the crisis, shows new polling from older people’s charity Independent Age.

The poll of 483 people aged over 65, conducted by Opinium between May 15 and 18, showed that nearly one in five respondents (18%) had heard or been on the receiving end of negative language about older people in relation to coronavirus.

This was an increase from 12% from when the same poll was conducted eight weeks ago, as lockdown began in late March.

Alongside being on the receiving end of negative language about the older generation, over-65s also report having reduced contact with friends and family during COVID-19.

The nationally representative poll found that older people’s social contact had become increasingly limited over the course of the crisis, with the proportion of people having their social contact significantly reduced rising from 75% in late March to 89% now.

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said the survey showed that the impact of coronavirus and the lockdown had profoundly changed the lives of older people across the UK.

“It’s incredibly disappointing that one in five people over 65 are hearing ageist language as the coronavirus pandemic continues – and particularly that this figure has increased.

“People in later life across the UK have contributed to our society all their lives – and indeed continue to do so through voluntary work, providing care for grandchildren and providing informal care for loved ones. They simply deserve better than this.

“At Independent Age, we’re also very concerned about how many older people are experiencing isolation and loneliness at this challenging time.

“Some older people will need practical or emotional support, so this needs to be in place throughout the duration of this crisis. It’s vitally important that no one feels that they are going through this alone.”

Independent Age has advice on how to connect with older friends, family and neighbours – and how older people can stay connected – on its website:

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About the survey

This survey of 483 people aged 65 and over was carried out online between 15.05.2020 – 18.05.2020 by Opinium, for Independent Age.

Opinium abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

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