Acknowledgements and disclaimer


Welcome to the WA Country Health Service and WA Primary Health Alliance Ageism module. This module has been developed by funding from the Australian Government Primary Health Network (PHN) Program.

This learning resource has been produced to facilitate awareness of ageism and promote positive change in how we think about ageing and what it means to be an older version of ourselves. Ageism and stereotypical views of older people can lead to prejudiced attitudes, devaluing older people and social exclusion.

This module addresses the issue of ageism towards older people; the negative attitudes towards getting older and towards older people; the different categories of ageism and it explores how we carry our personal beliefs, experience and perceptions about ageing and how people can be better supported to age healthily in place.

Questions about this resource can be directed to the WACHS learning and Development team by email to Feedback can be provided via the evaluation link at the end of this product.

This program is appropriate for all levels of staff working across the continuum of care in health and for any community members. It supports healthy ageing, addresses prevention and aims to improve attitudes towards ageing to support better health outcomes for older people.

Learning outcomes

What will I be learning and why?

This module will help you identify, understand and challenge ageist beliefs and behaviours as they occur in your home, workplace or community.

On completing this module, you will be able to:

  • Define ageism
  • Identify ageist beliefs and behaviours
  • Identify common stereotypes about ageing and older people
  • Understand how ageism impacts older people
  • Identify ways in which ageism can be challenged and positive ageing promoted
  • Commit to taking action in personal, family and work life to promote a more positive culture towards ageing


What is ageism?

What is ageism?

Ageism, like other “isms,” is prejudice and discrimination against individuals or groups because of age. Unlike other “isms,” however, ageism is something many of us will experience at some time in our lives.

Jude, an 84-year-old woman
Li Wei, a 94-year-old man
Li Wei
Amy, a 74-year-old Aboriginal woman
Mark, a 75-year-old man
Beth, a 82-year-old older woman
Bill, a 72-year-old man
Claire, a 55-year-old woman

Definitions and categories

World Health Organisation logo

The World Health Organisation defines ageism as:

‘Stereotyping and discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age; ageism can take many forms, including prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory practices, or institutional policies and practices that perpetuate stereotypical beliefs.’

Ageist beliefs and behaviours can be:

How ageist are you?

Take the two-minute Am I Ageist Quiz to find out (this will take you to an external website).

Positive attitudes toward older people

What does a positive culture towards ageism look like?

This module aims to promote positive attitudes toward older people. Select the most appropriate ending to each of the concept statements below:

1. Ageing is a natural and lifelong process of
2. A holistic approach to treatment and care of the older person focuses on improving and preventing
3. Older people are valuable and contributing members of
4. Old and young can enjoy each other’s company and learn from
5. Older people should receive care and treatment in the right place, at the right time and in the
6. People have control over the older person
7. Attitudes about ageing play a significant role in how


Level 1: Beginner

Identify ageist beliefs and behaviours

Level 1: Beginner

Click on each person in the community to listen and work through their stories.

Categories of ageism

Remember that ageism can be interpersonal, institutional or internalised. Drag each example below into the relevant box on the right.

Jude’s doctor gives her the impression that she is ‘too old to treat’.
Beth dismisses her symptoms: “It’s just old age”.
Emergency staff ‘can’t be bothered’ looking into Li Wei’s medical history.
Age limits on disease prevention screening programs.
Lights in a dementia facility are unable to be dimmed.
The remote area nurse assumes Amy has dementia.
Claire’s specialist says that she’s ‘too old’ for a mastectomy to matter.

Level 1 completed

Congratulations on completing Level 1.

Level 2: Intermediate

Understand the impact of ageism

Impact of ageism

Ageism is associated with poor self-image, loneliness, reduced civic engagement and more frequent help-seeking. At a societal level, ageism can influence policies that, without intending harm, can marginalise older adults, pushing them aside, so we no longer benefit from their participation in society.

Watch the short video below to hear how ageism impacts on Jeanette's experience of Alzheimer's.

Level 2: Intermediate

Click on each person in the community to listen and understand possible impacts of ageism.

Level 2 completed

Congratulations on completing Level 2.

Level 3: Advanced

Challenge ageism and apply concepts of positive ageing

Level 3: Advanced

Click on each person in the community to challenge ageism and apply concepts of positive ageing.

Building a better community

You may have noticed that as you progressed through this module, the community depicted in the images became more vibrant - with more places for all generations to sit, socialise and live life to the fullest. There are many ways our communities could be more liveable, safer and more compassionate.

Watch the short video from the Compassionate Communities workshop below for ideas on how to build a better community.

Level 3 completed

Congratulations on completing Level 3.

Commit to action

Are you ready to commit to action?

What can I do?

Imagine a world where all older adults are respected and included.

1. Select a setting where you would like to see positive approaches to ageing applied:

2. Choose some of the positive approaches on your list and describe how they would look.

3. What one thing will you commit to doing to challenge ageism?

You have passed the module - but you're not quite finished!

Launch and complete the reflective practice activity tool to:

  • reflect on the application of this learning to your workplace
  • provide feedback on the program
  • register your completion of this program in the LMS


Identifying, understanding and challenging ageist beliefs and behaviours (AC20 EL2)

Congratulations! You have successfuly completed this module on challenging ageism. Before you exit the module you might like to:

  1. Print or save the notes or positive approaches you have collected throughout this module.
  2. Explore the resources and further reading.
  3. Complete a short evaluation of the module. Your feedback is appreciated.
  4. Download your certificate (see below).

Your certificate

To view and print off a WACHS Certificate of Attainment with your name, date and program details on it, go to the LMS My Learning > Booking History.

Also print off a copy of the Learning / Performance Objectives (from the LMS program notes) and attach to your certificate for your records.

You can now safely close this browser tab.

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Identifying, understanding and challenging ageist beliefs and behaviours

Estimated time to complete: 60 minutes
LMS Code: AC20 EL2
Published: December 2020
Last Rev: November 2021