Help The Aged has slammed the government over its treatment of the elderly.
Figures revealed by the charity show almost two-thirds of the population believes the government does not take seriously pensioners' needs, and that this attitude has fuelled a sense of fear and rejection in both the old and the young.
The charity is now calling for a ban on all forms of age discrimination, and to introduce legislation which puts the subject on an equal footing with racism and sexism.
It is also urging the government not to make a "mockery" of the elderly.
Part of the charity's concern, it claims, is that a new ratings system for care homes do not take into account whether residents are treated with respect.
Three in five adults think that the older people get, the worse they are treated by society. The same number of younger people - especially those aged between 25 and 45 - are worried about how they will be treated when they hit retirement age, according to research.
A spokesman for the government's equalities department said: "The government is currently looking at what more can be done to make Britain fairer through the forthcoming Equality Bill."