Making Peace With Growing Old

Linda Fried suggests it’s the key to a long and happy life:

There is a growing body of impressive research showing that our attitudes toward aging affect our health, our resilience in the face of adversity, and our very survival. Becca Levy at Yale, a pioneer and leading researcher in this area, conducted a study that followed several hundred adults (50 years and older) for more than 20 years. She and her colleagues found that older adults who held more positive age stereotypes lived 7.5 years longer than their peers who held negative age-related stereotypes. …

Unfortunately, negative stereotypes are much more common than positive images; indeed, according to some researchers, ageism is more pervasive in our society than negative stereotypes based on gender, race, or sexual orientation. Our negative attitudes towards aging blind us to the fact that millions of people in their ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and beyond are robust, active, functional, experienced, capable, and talented – and that they want to remain engaged and contributing. However, we have not yet created the social structures, roles, and institutions to capitalize on our success in adding years to life by also adding life to years.