If we are as young as we feel are we as old as we think?

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You’ve probably heard the saying, “you’re as young as you feel“. Research suggests that this is truer than we might realize; our thoughts about aging can affect how we age.

The benefits of positive perceptions of aging include the following:

  • a higher level of physical functioning over time¹
  • 44% more likely to fully recover from disability¹
  • on average, live 7.5 years longer.²

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, made the following eye-opening comments at a roundtable discussion about “adding life to years”:

  • Longevity has advanced to the point where conditions like old age and frailty can no longer be defined by numerical age.
  • When a 100-year-old man finishes a marathon, as happened last year, we know that conventional conceptions of old age must change.
  • We need to respect older people as rich sources of wisdom and experience, as assets for society, not burdens, as new models for the “new normal”.

Even the Bible hints at a more positive perception of age when it says, “the beauty of old men is the gray head.”³

Now is as good a time as any to take stock of our own perceptions regarding age.

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References
¹  Levy BR, Slade MD, Murphy TE, Gill TM. Association Between Positive Age Stereotypes and Recovery From Disability in Older PersonsJAMA. 2012;308(19):1972-1973. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.14541.
² J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Aug;83(2):261-70. Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging. Levy BR, Slade MD, Kunkel SR, Kasl SV. Source: Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8034, USA. becca.levy@yale.edu.
³ KJV Proverbs 20:29
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