A few years ago, there was an ad in Reader’s Digest for “the new pill that can end aging because it is guaranteed to help de-age your body 15 to 20 years.”
That’s quite the statement! Contrary to this ad, there is no pill or secret sauce to ensure healthy aging. The usual tips we learn throughout our lives — exercise 30 minutes a day, eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, and learn new things — help you age well. (And yes, the term “moderation” is typically referenced in the conversation.)
While this “to do list” may sound familiar, there’s another thing to consider: getting in tune with your attitude on aging.
We all want to live long lives. Yet most of us don’t want to think about aging and are dismayed at signs of it in ourselves and those we love. So we rarely admit that we like anything related to aging.
Throughout our lives, we observe people and society projecting negative, fear-provoking, and false messages about aging. We even experience this in conversations we have with each other. We see it on TV and in movies, social media, and the news. It impacts laws, policies, practices, and culture. It is even reflected in the design of our buildings and green spaces.
By the time we approach our older decades, we have accumulated so many negative impressions of aging in our subconscious thinking that we automatically use words and phrases that project aging as bad, such as “ugly”, “bad”, or “slow.”
When we believe these messages, we are at risk of losing the ability to do the very things we have always succeeded in doing. For some, these misconceptions weaken the motivation to accomplish the very things that help us have the best aging experience possible. We settle for life as it is, accepting the barriers to easier living in our homes and communities. But settling is not okay. It damages our sense of self, shortens our lifespan, limits our opportunities, and prevents us from thriving.
Focus on possibilities: Studies show that, on average, people with positive self-perceptions of aging can live 7.5 years longer! These individuals also enjoy better functional health because they practice more preventive health behaviors, like attention to diet, exercise, and taking medicine as prescribed.
What is Ageism?
Dr. Robert Butler, a psychiatrist and founder of the National Institute on Aging, coined the term “Ageism” in 1969. Ageism is ever-present, largely automatic, and deeply rooted. It’s the one “ism” not recognized as an issue by the general public, which means it’s largely unchallenged.
Ageism is real. It is a tolerated form of prejudice that influences policies, services, and day-to-day life, especially for older adults. Ageism is when someone assumes you are too old or too young for something — whether it’s a task, opportunity, or relationship — instead of finding out who you are and what you are capable of. Ageism leads to judgment about the actions, character, and desires of people based on their age.
But you are so much more than your age. When people only recognize your age, your personality, beliefs, and individuality are replaced with stereotypes. This prevents individuals from getting to know the person behind the assumption.
Find the joy: Your attitude on aging matters. The way you talk about aging matters. The choices you make about aging matter. Identify at least one thing that brings you joy in this season of life you’re in.
Know that your worth and value isn’t based on how you look or what you can do when compared to a younger person. Your life story — the sum of your wisdom, relationships, and experiences — is what makes you valuable..
Your quality of life improves when you embrace your age. Make a choice now to think more positively about growing older. The benefits will make you glad you did!
TroveStreet is Here to Help
If you haven’t already, create an online profile with TroveStreet where you can jot down things you want to keep handy based on what you read or save this article for easy access. TroveStreet offers a Quick-Start Planning Tool with four questions to facilitate your planning. If you have questions or want to connect with a Planning Navigator, call TroveStreet at 717-363-1129.