Many of us have a fear of old age and some anxiety around it, some of it due to a feeling that we may not be valued and respected as much as younger people are. Now, scientific research suggests we can mitigate such feeling and anxiety – and live longer – if we are respected in our senior years and we think positively about ageing.
An study by the global journalism network Orb Media found that nations with high levels of respect for the elderly recorded better health among older people and lower poverty for the over-60 population, according to a CNN.com story.
With 2.1 billion people expected to live beyond 60 by 2050, global attitudes toward older people have declined.
In a 2016 World Health Organization survey across 57 countries, 60 percent of respondents reported that older people are not respected.
A more recent report by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK recorded the feelings of 2,000 British citizens and found some other bleak trends. Almost half -- 47% -- believed that people over 65 struggled to learn new skills. One-fourth of 18- to 24-year-olds and 15 percent of the all respondents agreed that "it is normal to be unhappy and depressed when you are old."
New research finds that negative stereotypes can be detrimental to older people in a number of ways, including shortening their lives.
If older people have a more positive perception of old age, they are likely to have fewer problems and likely to live longer. Positive thinking can lead to positive behavior by prompting people to engage in healthier lifestyles, such as exercise. A person's positivity can also improve their psychology, preparing them better to cope with stress – a cause of memory loss and brain shrinkage.
A study in Baltimore found people with a positive attitude toward aging had less cardiovascular disease, they produced less cortisol – a stress hormone – over time, and autopsy findings showed less frequent dementia.
How to live one’s twilight years with grace and good health? Experts say people should plan for old age and change their lifestyles ahead of time to expand the years spent in good health, he said.