Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Old Age Doesn't Have to Be a "Downer"
Professor Richard Kaplan sent me a link to a recent book review in the Wall Street Journal ‘Breaking the Age Code’ Review: Riding High Into the Sunset.
Social psychologist Becca Levy spends much of “Breaking the Age Code” doing exactly that, weaving together case studies and her own research to demonstrate that old age doesn’t have to suck at all. The expectation that aging means decay, Ms. Levy shows, is actually a major reason it so often does—our negative view of aging is literally killing us. Chipping away at this widespread and deeply ingrained conviction has a measurable effect on health after just 10 minutes. ... n 2002 Ms. Levy combined results from the Ohio Longitudinal Study on Aging and Retirement with data from the National Death Index to reveal that, on average, people with the most positive views of aging were outliving those with the most negative views by 7½ years—an extraordinary 10% of current life expectancy in the United States.
The author discusses factors that make us prone to negative views of aging, and in particular, the prevalence of ageism. However, the author goes on to address how to change our thinking to "break the age code."
Ms. Levy finishes with a vision of paradise: “A place where ageism does not exist.” But this is no idle fantasy, it’s Greensboro, Vt. She stops for homemade lemonade with an 81-year-old writer for the local paper and swims at Caspian Lake with a real-estate agent in her 80s. When older people and society around them are “harmonized in a productive way,” Ms. Levy continues, it shows how “aging can become a homecoming, a rediscovery, a feast of life.” Or—as Grandpa Eddie puts it after his adventure has left him closer to Spencer than ever before—“Getting old is a gift.”
I'm ordering the book!