The RAE defines ageism as ‘Discrimination against individuals or groups on the grounds of age, especially when it occurs against older people’.

People are often categorised on the basis of age, which causes harm and injustice and undermines the creation of intergenerational synergies.

As highlighted by the WHO, ageism harms our health and well-being, causing, among others:

  • Cardiovascular stress
  • A 7.5 year decrease in life expectancy due to a negative attitude towards ageing itself
  • Invisibilising those who suffer from it, leaving them unrepresented in the media and public activities, and keeping them out of decision-making
  • Greater social isolation and loneliness

At AFAGA we contribute our efforts to the fight against this type of discrimination. We work to raise awareness, trying to achieve a better social understanding of ageing as another stage of life, as a time in which there is also great diversity and in which older people should be encouraged to continue to be part of the decision-making process, respecting their criteria and life history.

Afaga-Atendo Chair of Ageism UVIGO

The AFAGA-Atendo Chair in Ageism is an initiative promoted by the Galician Association of Relatives of Alzheimer’s Patients and other Dementias (AFAGA Alzheimer), Atendo, a private social innovation entity dedicated to accompanying the elderly and their families through various services, and the University of Vigo.

At the signing of the agreement, the rector of the UVigo, Manuel Reigosa, showed his “enormous satisfaction for a collaboration that goes back a long way,” he said. “Now we are signing an agreement thinking more in the long term so that this reality that is imposed in Galicia, where we are also considered a laboratory of ageing, a chair of ageism allows us to work together,” added Reigosa.

For his part, the founder of Atendo, Lu铆s Barros, referred to the initiative as “a fantastic vehicle to change the way we look at things, in which the elderly and ageing are associated with illness, and to launch messages to transform this way of thinking, feeling and acting with regard to age and ageing”, he said.

The president of AFAGA Alzheimer, Juan Carlos Rodr铆guez, said that “only from a change of vision, from a different way of communicating and understanding that this new reality is unique in the history of humanity, because until now we have never had such a significant elderly population, a new social pact is needed, which is what we are working on through this Chair“, he explained.

The Chair is directed by Ana Bel茅n Fern谩ndez Souto, lecturer and researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Communication at UVigo, who assures that she faces the challenge “with a desire to learn, because there is a long way to go and the main task of the Chair is to create this awareness and that all people see ageism for what it really is“, said the director, highlighting the importance of this being the first Chair on this subject that exists in Spain and Europe.

This chair focuses on courses, seminars, conferences and academic activities aimed at disseminating knowledge and research on the scale, impacts and determinants of the phenomenon of ageism.

Educational interventions, from infancy to university; promotion of research in the field of ageism and dissemination of the results achieved; promotion of the intergenerational relationship with the aim of reducing prejudices and stereotypes, or generation of friendly environments for people with dementia, are some of the actions included under the chair, which in addition to the direction of Fern谩ndez Souto, will have a monitoring committee, composed of eight representatives of the promoting entities.

This is a different path because until now all the initiatives in this sense were from the geriatrics and psychology sectors and we are going to place ourselves in a very transversal layer, in an umbrella where everyone will enter and we will try to change those messages that are going to have an impact, big ones. What we are preparing is going to change the lives of many people“, explains the founder of Atendo, highlighting the leading role played in this initiative by the researcher and former dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Communication between 2003 and 2006, Xaime Fandi帽o, “the most vindictive person and the one who is doing the most to change this viewpoint. A person who is 70 years old and who fights every day so that he is not seen as worthless“.

The president of AFAGA highlights the interest of a project in which a third sector entity and another from the private sector join forces with UVigo with the aim of creating a change in the view of society. “What motivated us when we started working on this issue was the search for this new reality, this intergenerationality, but also from education, because one of the pillars that the WHO talks about ageism is to intervene in the laws, in education, and when we talk about education we talk about knowledge, which is the university“, Rodr铆guez stresses, who considers that this initiative can be exportable to the whole country and the rest of the world, “because this ageing process is happening everywhere, from the most ageing places like Europe to the youngest ones like Africa, which is also starting this process“, he explains.

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