If the old are thought to be inferior, used up, done, then would the rest of the population be less likely to support efforts to help older individuals? Ageism is certainly a real phenomenon, but it is an interesting question as to whether it is a major factor in the challenges we face in persuading the world to support work on rejuvenation therapies. Consider that those people with influence and wealth sufficient to steer the path of research and development in medicine are largely older, not younger. To the degree that ageism is a problem, I'd have to say that it seems likely to me to be a matter of the elderly accepting the mantle of this prejudice upon themselves. Or perhaps a matter of the old and declining leading implementations of discrimination against the elderly and declined. But this is just a viewpoint; the author here, a long-standing member of our community of patient advocates, argues that ageism is a core concern.
To me, efforts to counteract biological aging and fighting chronological ageism are two sides of the same coin. But for many this is probably not the case. For one, this is just not an issue at all people in general think about. And yet, all the people reaching adulthood and more are taking hits both from biological aging and from ageism during their lifetime. If you work on counteracting biological aging, you are working on fighting one form of ageism already. And am also hoping that if you think yourself as one who fights ageism you will recognize that understanding biological aging and support scientific efforts to extend healthy lifespan might be the most effective way to support the life of older people in the long term.
The World Health Organization defines ageism as the stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination towards people on the basis of age. The claim I would like to make is there are two forms of discriminatory ageism, but only one of them has a connection to biological age. The first type is intergenerational ageism, and the main machinery involved here is chronological age. If you think that the deleterious effects of biological aging is the main or only cause for prejudice against older people then imagine a world where biological aging doesn't exist, yet kids are still born and new generations develop their own culture and references. It seems clear that in a world like that ageism and tensions between generations would still be an issue. Biological aging is not needed in order for ageism to happen.
For the second type: does the existence of biological aging and the visible signs of biological aging trigger ageism all by themselves? Yes, this is classical ageism, rooted in a positive bias for the young, and it has a long, long history in human culture. This type of biologically triggered ageism goes one way though, as it affects only older people by definition.
By now you might have guessed the argument I'm going to construct: people working on interventions to counteract processes of biological aging are at the same time working on removing the physiological, cognitive differences between the biologically old and biologically young. So they fight not just biological aging but biologically driven ageism too. Minimizing the differences between biological ages and maximizing the differences between chronological ages, they will make it hard for decision-makers to build ageism into the very fabric of companies and other institutions.