On this 1 October, when the world community traditionally celebrates the International Day of Older Persons, the Ministry of Family Affairs, Integration and the Greater Region wishes to highlight the subject of the perception of ageing, to draw attention to the importance of sharing realistic and diverse images of age and to combat ageism and discrimination against older people.
A person's physical appearance is one of the things we use to judge their age. But a person's age reveals nothing about their personality, abilities or interests. Age is a vague concept that depends on many variables and varies according to the point of view we adopt, notably according to our own calendar age, our life experiences, or the image conveyed by society. In other words, there is no single representation of age.
However, old age is still often reduced to a stereotypical representation, positive or negative, which does not always correspond to reality. Age is still too often associated with weakness, illness and loneliness, with declining physical and cognitive skills.
These often negative images of age and old age implanted in society help to fuel ageism, a phenomenon that consists of categorising and dividing people in such a way that they suffer prejudice and injustice. While ageism is synonymous with discrimination, it also has a negative impact on our health and well-being. To combat this phenomenon, it is vital to convey a positive yet realistic image of old age, one that not only emphasises the heterogeneity and diversity of age, but also shows the positive aspects of old age without falling into the opposite clichés.
A positive image of old age does not mean ignoring the ageing process, but rather recognising the skills and qualities of older people, for example the wealth of experience and contributions they continue to make to our societies.
A positive image of age is all the more important given the evidence that the way in which it is presented and perceived influences our attitude to ageing, which affects us all from the moment we are born. The WHO estimates that growing up with a positive image of age and a positive attitude towards it represents an average gain of 7.5 years of healthy life. The fight against ageism therefore concerns all ages and all generations.
In order to promote exchanges on this subject between people of all generations, the Ministry of Family Affairs, Integration and the Greater Region has launched several initiatives over the course of this year, all of which have been placed under the banner of positive perceptions of age and the fight against ageism.
A workshop entitled "Images de l'âge et de la vieillesse, parlons-en!" organised on 19 July 2023 at the University of Luxembourg enabled participants of all ages to reflect together on their own perceptions of age and old age, as well as those of society.
The conclusions of these various thematic round tables will be presented to representatives of Luxembourg's local authorities at the next Forum pour le 3e Âge, which will take place on Saturday 18 November 2023 at the Lycée Ermesinde in Mersch and will also focus on images of age and ageing.
Finally, again on the initiative of the Ministry of Family Affairs, Integration and the Greater Region, "GERO Kompetenzzenter fir den Alter" is organising an evening to celebrate the International Day of Older Persons on 3 October at the Tramsschapp sports and cultural centre from 5pm. After the screening of the documentary "La révolte des vieux" and the opening of a photography exhibition entitled "Lumière de la vieillesse, ombre de l'âge", guests from all generations are invited to exchange views on their perceptions of age.
Press release by the Ministry of Family Affairs, Integration and the Greater Region