Prejudice directed at older people results in $63 billion in excess health costs each year in the United States, a new study claims.
Ageism, which is the marginalization of the elderly in society, accounts for one of every seven dollars spent on the eight most expensive health conditions for Americans older than 60. Those conditions include heart disease, chronic respiratory disease and mental health disorders.
The researchers also found that ageism was linked with 17 million cases of those eight health conditions in one year.
“Ageism is one of the least visible prejudices,” said study author Becca Levy, a professor at the Yale University School of Public Health.
“Our study helps to increase the visibility of ageism by looking at its consequences,” she added in a Yale news release.
The study was published online Nov. 13 in the journal The Gerontologist.
“Our findings make a strong case for efforts aimed at reducing the epidemic of ageism, which produces not only a financial cost for society, but also a human cost for the well-being of older persons,” Levy said.
In previous research, Levy and colleagues found that ageism harms the health of seniors because it can create stress, which affects many types of health outcomes.
The World Health Organization has more on ageism.