Here’s Why the Image of Aging Deserves R-E-S-P-E-C-T (and How You Can Help)
February 24, 2016
“I hope I die before I get old.” – “My Generation” by The Who
Everywhere we look, we’re inundated with similar messages on how getting older is a bad thing (even though we’re, ironically, always looking for ways to live longer). Society tells us that being old means you have a lot of health problems; you’re too slow, too dependent, too forgetful, and too cranky.
Yet, at the same time, we treat other aging things as desirable and even luxurious, such as wine. Well, guess what? People get better with age, too, and we at Bay Alarm Medical think it’s high time we challenged society’s image of aging!
So, how can we begin promoting positive attitudes toward aging? Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Therefore, we think a good place to start is by changing our everyday conversations. Below are some common statements and beliefs about aging; the next time you hear one mentioned, give one of our suggested responses a try.
Grey hair and wrinkles are my worst enemies.
Society is pushing anti-aging products at us more and more, so it’s easy to think grey hair and wrinkles are cause for panic. However, we like to think they add more character to aging faces. Think about how much an older person has experienced, learned, and witnessed throughout their years. Their wisdom and insights are priceless, and they often have the best stories. So, don’t fight those laugh lines—embrace them!
Old people are cranky, too dependent on others, and serve no real purpose.
A little bit of empathy can go a long way. Think about how you might feel if you could no longer live in your own home, and instead had to move into unfamiliar surroundings, such as a nursing home. Or, if you had health problems that prevented you from getting out much or staying socially connected. Seniors are happier when they feel they have a purpose, maintain some level of independence, and stay active socially.
While there are a growing number of initiatives aimed at helping seniors “age in place,” we also need to create more roles for the elderly in our communities that not only empower them with purpose, but also give community members more exposure to the wisdom and experiences this very important demographic brings.
Your health declines as you get older, and you become weak.
Do you remember the story of the 92-year old woman, Harriette Thompson, who ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in San Diego last year? What about the couple who ran a marathon literally every day of 2013 and set a world record? According to the Wall Street Journal, runners over the age of 50 are one of the fastest-growing age groups training for and participating in marathons. People are finding ways to stay healthy and strong as they age through regular check-ups and screenings for prevention, remaining active (both mind AND body), healthy eating, and social activities.
I’m having a senior moment.
Ever stop to think about how insulting this common phrase actually is? In a world of never-ending political-correctness, why have seniors been overlooked? The next time you hear someone say they’re having a senior moment because they forgot something, it might be time to throw some facts their way. For example, did you know those with a negative attitude toward aging are 25% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s? Enough said!
Have you seen the movie The Intern with Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro? It’s a perfect example of challenging the negative image of aging. Hathaway plays a young CEO whose online clothing company starts a senior internship program, which is specifically targeted to those aged 65+.
DeNiro, who plays a character named Ben, is both widowed and retired, and is looking for more purpose in his life. He applies and lands the internship. At first, everyone thinks it’s a joke that he was hired, and they even show Ben struggling to turn on a Macbook. But, Ben proves to be a quick learner despite his age, and younger employees begin to respect him and value the wisdom he brings to their workplace (and personal lives). Kudos to this film for taking a step toward changing our perceptions of aging—keep it coming!
Recently Bay Alarm Medical met with four inspiring seniors, ages 84-91. We were lucky enough to hear some of their inspiring life experiences, journeys, and even share a few laughs. Our goal is to reinvent the image of aging and be strong advocates for those who are often forgotten and mistreated due to age. Watch Fresh Perspectives from Aging Faces: A Positive Aging Video.
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