Engaging Mind and Body to Fight the Ugly Truth of Ageism | Heather Lane

Engaging Mind and Body to Fight the Ugly Truth of Ageism

Engaging Mind and Body to Fight the Ugly Truth of Ageism

Fighting ageism keeps you busy!

We receive humorous birthday card with the words “over the hill” displayed on the front. We excuse an ordinary error by saying we had a “senior moment.” Well-meaning friends compliment us with, “Wow! You look good—for your age.” We accept these everyday occurrences, but they are hurdles when it comes to fighting ageism.

Ageism is a form of discrimination or prejudice as a result of your age. Ageism occurs in the workplace as well as in personal relationships. While younger people experience a different sort of ageism, seniors can find ageism detrimental to their wellbeing. Research shows this to be especially true when seniors believe the negative stereotypes associated with getting older. These stereotypes include memory issues, loss of independence, and developing new symptoms and ailments as just a fact of getting older.

What happens when you accept ageist concepts

Typically, age stereotypes revolve around cognitive and physical deterioration for people as young as 50. People often view these ageist statements as amusing truths and harmless expressions. Really, they promote false notions with real-world consequences.

Research has found that those who believe negative age-related statements suffer for those beliefs when compared with people who view getting older more positively. Negative attitudes seem to lead to more problems with routine daily activities like bathing and dressing. People who accept ageism also experience worse overall health. In one study, believers of ageist myths showed more than a 30% greater memory decline than non-believers. A second study indicated an increase in Alzheimer’s disease among people who had held negative age stereotypes earlier in their lives. Mortality rates have been shown to as much as double among older adults who link aging with bleak futures.

Use your mind to rise above ageism discrimination

In fighting ageism, the first step is refusing to accept unfavorable cultural perspectives about aging. Instead, take on healthier views backed by science. The truth is that issues like memory loss are not a natural product of aging.

In countries like China, older generations are held in high esteem. Becoming older is seen in a more constructive light. As a possible result, studies find that Chinese seniors outperform American seniors on memory tests. Further, studies have shown that those who refuse to accept pessimistic age-related attributes experience longer life spans, fewer mental health issues and greater independence in their lives.

Engage your body in fighting ageism

Take care of your body! Give your body the proper attention it needs as it experiences accumulated “wear and tear.” Just like a car engine, our bodies have the best chance of continuing to operate smoothly when we provide regular maintenance. Move it or lose it!

For aging seniors, this means staying as independent as you can by being physically active and doing things yourself when possible. Keep in mind that exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous for you to reap the benefits. Consistent, moderate physical activity still results in increased strength, energy and resistance to
disease.

Physical therapy to fight ageism

To help older people stay healthy, physical therapy can be a great companion to an exercise regime. While you may think of physical therapy as a resource only when you have a physical injury, PT actually helps aging adults improve a host of conditions. Through PT, you can find relief from ailments ranging from arthritis and joint stiffness to osteoporosis and Parkinson’s.

Your age doesn’t define you

Rejecting fatalistic attitudes about getting older can help you to protect yourself from adverse health effects and potentially even an earlier death. Stereotypes don’t have to become self-fulling prophecies if aging adults view the golden years as a new life phase filled with growth opportunities. Continue with your physical activity. Learn new things. Keep challenging yourself physically and mentally. You’ll keep up your energetic and mobility levels to achieve the lifestyle you want.

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