Ageism of older adults mostly take place in labour market and media

Social Science Specialist Prof. Melis Oktuğ stated that ageism of older adults is encountered mostly in labour market and media, and added, “We normalize this age discrimination and can tolerate it easily. We need to create opportunities for them to be visible in social life in order to prevent this.”

In accordance with data of the year 2018 from Turkish Statistical Institute, there is more than 7.1 million people over 65 in Turkey. Regarding projections for population, it is estimated that rate of the elderly population will be 10.2 % in 2023, 12.9% in 2030, 16.3% in 2040, and go up to 22.6% in 2060.

Social Science Specialist Prof. Melis Oktuğ made some explanations on discrimination of the elderly on Human Rights Day celebrated on 10 December, highlighting this discrimination is mostly seen in labour market and media. Prof. Melis Oktuğ Zengin reported that this situation, occurring more commonly especially in America and Europe, has been seen to a very small extent thanks to the importance of respect to the elderly in Turkey.

“The use of new generation technologies at professional life has played a significant role in active engagement of the youth in labour market. This is same in terms of employment in Turkey, too. However, we can see the approach towards the elderly is socially different than other countries.”, said Social Science Specialist Prof. Melis Oktuğ Zengin from Nişantaşı University. She also added, “Older adults shine out with their wisdom in our culture. They were transferring knowledge within a family in the past. They relatively have this role now. However, large families has turned into nuclear families in our culture recently. Therefore, we do not contact with the elderly in our families as much as we did in the past. Since we do not contact with the old people directly, images and representations about the old people are associated with the ones in our surroundings. At this point, representations about the elderly in media are of great importance when there is no direct communication with them. For example, they are introduced as people who are more conventional and cannot adapt to new technologies. They are imaged as people with psychological and physical challenges, which may result in discrimination of elderly in the future.”


Prof. Dr. Melis Oktuğ Zengin, stating ageism of the elderly is more easily tolerated compared to other types of discrimination, made explanations as follows:

“We normalize this age discrimination the elderly is exposed to. For example, there are such statements as ‘old people move slowly, or old people cannot use technology’. Since we normalize this situation, we are not even aware of this discrimination. We can tolerate it so easily. Even double discrimination may be faced based on both gender and age, or both disability and age. Aging is not an inborn situation. It is a phase where everyone will experience throughout their lives. Therefore, this is a type of discrimination that all of us may experience one day.”


Prof. Dr. Melis Oktuğ Zengin suggested that old people should take more place in social life in order to prevent this discrimination, and added, “Old people should maintain their active participation in the society. Employment opportunities with more flexible working hours and positions where they can transfer their knowledge and experiences in professional life should be created for the elderly. I also believe their social visibility should be enhanced. If adequate guarantees are provided, their contribution to the functionality of a society can be maintained, so their rights can be protected based on all these efforts.”

Release date: 10.12.2019