Ageism: an ugly new trend

A film by Marie-Laure Legendre
First broadcast April 1, 2010 on France 2

A report on a disturbing new trend in French society: ageism. For many older people, discrimination because of age has become a daily humiliation. We join Noëlle, 82, and Francoise, 76, as they try and complete simple tasks that most of us take for granted, such as paying for household goods by installment, renting an apartment, insuring a car, and getting a mortgage. Both women have secure, regular incomes, so should be ideal candidates. However, their requests are denied.

What can older people do? Many of them suffer in silence, but refusing someone credit or insurance based solely on their age, is in fact illegal, and some victims of ageism have started to act. Those who do insist on their rights, are winning cases.

But this discrimination is not limited to department stores, banks and real estate agencies. It sneaks into the health service: in some hospitals the elderly are flagrantly deprioritised in favour of younger, more “productive” patients. Annick Matthieu, whose elderly mother was shoved into what looked like a store room full of junk at the local hospital, is outraged.

The baby boomer generation is now approaching retirement age. By 2020 a quarter of the population will be over 65  and subjected to prejudice and discrimination unless attitudes change.