It turns out that how we feel about aging can actually effect our experience of aging. That’s according to The Wall Street Journal, which says that negative stereotypes about aging can actually be detrimental to our health. This is especially true here in the United States, where negative depictions of the elderly and growing older are rife in media and popular culture. The good news is that we can combat these feelings and even reverse their effects.
Studies have shown that seniors exposed to positive images and messages related to aging were found to have significant improvements in their self-image and overall physical health. In psychology, this tactic is often called “priming,” and it’s been used to change all sorts of behaviors, including race and gender bias and even how people perform on math tests.
Identify Negative Self-Talk
If you regularly find yourself lamenting about the aging process, or dreading the future, stop and consider if you’re actually formulating your view based on facts. The truth is that older adults (65+) report being more satisfied with their lives, more financially stable, and feel they have better social and family relationships than people in any other age group. Concentrating on the benefits of age – such as wisdom, better interpersonal skills, greater confidence, and supreme expertise in a field – can also help you get off the negative-talk track.
Find Positive Role Models
Sometimes just knowing about the lives of others who have thrived as they aged can help turn our own negative thoughts around. In 1989,100-year-old Teiichi Igarashi, a former lumberjack, became the oldest man to climb Mt. Fuji. The oldest woman to run a marathon was Gladys Burrill, who was 92 years old at the time. John Glen went back to space at 77! And lest you think every accomplishment is physical, “Grandma Moses,” one of the nation’s most famous painters, didn’t start painting until she was 76. And Peter Roget didn’t invent the Thesaurus until he was 73. Who are the older people in your life who you looked up to? Use these as your touch-points for aging, instead of false stereotypes.
Boost Your Mood
Exercise can be a huge boost to both your mood and your quality of life. Remember that any type of exercise can be beneficial, and many types can be done even if you have physical limitations. Watch this story about one of our Bethany Village residents, Peggy, who walked over 260 miles in four months – using a walker. There are many exercise programs you can have tailored just for you and your unique needs. Don’t let that be an obstacle to boosting your mood! Embracing, rather than denying, aging can also contribute to your overall peace of mind. And isn’t that what we want at every age?