Think age positive for a long and happy life
18th January 2019
People have always been taught to respect older members of society. But now there is scientific evidence which shows that respect may be the key to saving lives among older people as well as keeping them physically and mentally healthy, reports CNN.
Analysis by Orb Media, the global journalism network, found that countries with high levels of respect for older members of the community recorded better health and lower poverty for the over 60s.
Orb Media compiled data from 150,000 people in 101 countries to learn about their levels of respect for older people. The data revealed that respect varied significantly between the countries. Pakistan was among the countries which scored the highest.
Becca Levy, professor of public health and psychology at Yale School of Public Health, believes that any negative attitudes about older people are due to “the growing medicalisation of older adults” and “the growing anti-ageing industry that promotes and actually profits from fear of ageing”.
However, a previous report published on Emerald Insight, demonstrated the benefits of an ageing population. The report stated that older people “make a huge contribution to the UK’s society, but their potential is not always realised”.
Negative stereotypes of older people can be dangerous in a few ways, including shortening their lives. Levy analysed interviews of 660 people from Oxford in Ohio, that was conducted during a period spanning 20 years.
She matched the information with mortality information and found that those with a positive attitude towards ageing lived on average 7.5 years longer than those who viewed growing older as something negative.
Levy said her team was surprised by the results and concluded that positivity can improve someone’s psychology, making them better at dealing with stress. There are many countries where older people are viewed as a valuable part of society and deserve respect.
A 2018 study showed that the chances of dementia could be lowered by 49.8% if a positive outlook is maintained. According to Levy’s findings, older people with positive and happy thoughts also recovered quicker from cardiovascular issues.
Dr Luigi Ferrucci, geriatrician and director of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging, said we need to see our lives as a trajectory and “every single period is important”.
He said: “People should prepare for ageing and make changes to their lives now to expand the years spent in good health. Our ageing population is the strongest, most important change that will occur in the world over the next 20 years. When ageing comes, it's not so bad if you have been planning for it.”
Orb Media stated that a “simple shift in attitude” towards older people could improve their physical and mental health.
Marilia Viana Berzins, a Brazilian social worker, said: “Old age is actually an achievement. It’s humanity’s bigger achievement of the last century.”
Faiza Mushtaq, an assistant professor of sociology at the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi, Pakistan, said respect for older people is a long-standing tradition in the country.
Typically, older people have been cared for in the family and are considered the head of the household. Mushtaq said: “This attitude towards ageing is a much healthier embrace of the ageing process, rather than having all of your notions of well-being, attractiveness and self-worth tied to youth.”
Dr Ishitobi from Japan believes that ageing should not be feared, and it should be embraced. He said: “It’s ok to age. Enjoy ageing, I say. Just a slight change in mindset will result in big differences.”
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This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.