Ageism: the longevity thief
Today, we live in a society in which being old and the old age phase of life are predominantly a stigma – a state that should be avoided. Negative images of age run through our daily lives: “I’m too old for that”, “For your age, you still look good…”. The consequences are dramatic: Becca Levy‘s research shows that health problems that were thought to be solely due to aging, such as memory loss, declining hearing and cardiovascular problems, are as well influenced by negative age perceptions. Positive age beliefs, on the other hand, lead to a better health and even longer life – on average 7.5 years. Ageism may be a longevity thief.
“This is ageism: the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or ourselves based on age.”WHO
This is where the discussion about ageism comes in. Our colleague Prof. Nancy Pachana makes a valuable contribution. She is Professor of Clinical Geropsychology in the Department of Psychology and Director of the Healthy Aging Initiative at the University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. She is also program director of UQ’s Age Friendly University initiative. She gave this talk at a TEDx event, which we warmly recommend.