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Are Your Thoughts Making You Old?
Posted by Anne Kreamer
on Wed, May 30, 2007, 8:58 am PDT
What words would you associate with being old? I asked a few people recently, and here are just some of the words they used: fuddy-duddy, not fresh, decrepit, sad, wrinkly, tired, stiff, brittle, unhappy, invisible, obsolete, diminished, fat, fragile, cranky, and marginalized.
Wise and experienced were the two positive words that came up, but only after I pushed to see if there might be anything good about getting older.
What's wrong with this picture?
According to a report published in the Bottom Line Health Newsletter, by Becca Levy, Ph.D. from the Yale School of Public Health, it is not an idle question, and how you answer it is clearly linked to your health.
In a variety of different kinds of tests, Yale researchers studied what effect perceptual issues about aging might have on health.
First, they asked a group of septuagenarians what words they used to describe an old person. According to Levy's article, they discovered that "those who had stereotypes like ‘feeble' and ‘senile' had significantly more hearing loss than those who had positive associations with age such as ‘wise' and ‘active.'"
In a different study, the researchers followed the recovery patterns of recent heart attack patients and found that those who thought about aging in a more positive way recovered more quickly and successfully.