Growing older is all about staying young

Turns the image of older people upside down

Recently, a number ofMany articles and books deal with the negative perception of older people. Old people would be inflexible, conservative, depressed, sexually inactive, and, on top of that, whiny too much. However, research repeatedly makes it clear that these images are false prejudices. There are of course whining elderly people, but actually just as many whining young people! In fact, these prejudices can have a significant impact on a person’s health and vitality. Because whether you’re young or old, these images have a strong predictive value for how old you’ll actually get. They say ‘you’re as old as you feel’. But what makes you feel young? This article shows how important it is to turn the image of older people on its head and what you can do to do so!

Imagery affects your health!

Studies show that the more positive your attitude towards older people is, the healthier you stay. This posture is good for your performance in general and has been shown to contribute, for example, to better hearing, memory, walking speed and thinking speed. It has also been discovered that young people who discriminate against older people tend to be less healthy than those who do not. The image of older people is therefore extremely important!

According to Professor André Aleman of the University of Groningen, studies have shown that a positive outlook on aging has a greater effect on our health than smoking, too little exercise or being overweight! Last year, a study by the University of Oxford and Geneva found that ‘psychological factors’ are more influential than unhealthy behaviour, chronic conditions or socio-economic factors.

These are solid conclusions that point to the same thing. So the image of older people matters! It is even a determining factor for your health, independent of your life situation, your general mood or the bad luck you have with your (physical) health. So what are we waiting for? On to a positive image of older people!

Healthy ageing

Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of older people are active, engaged, interested, helpful, curious and healthier than ever. It just doesn’t really penetrate society yet. Even as an elder you suffer from that image. You’ve heard so many negative things about older people throughout your life that you may have come to believe them too. This creates a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’. After all, if you think you can’t do something then you won’t do it and you’ll get bored of it over time. Nelleke Noordervliet gives the example: “Elderly people with problems get a condescending treatment as a victim and then they start to feel like victims too”. She goes on to say that it can sometimes be convenient for the elderly to present themselves as victims. But it’s certainly not healthy!

Protest Generation

It is hopeful that the baby boomers are aging. As a ‘protest generation’ they can change the image of old age! That won’t happen overnight, because the image is persistent. For example, when you look at the role of older people in television series, movies or books, the heroes are almost never people over sixty. One of the positive exceptions is the film ‘Gran Torino’, in which Clint Eastwoord (as actor and director) transforms his own ‘pinching image’ of aging into a positive resilient image and ‘in passing’ frees his neighbours from a youth gang!

Your own direction as an Elder

Professor Marcel Olde Rikkert uses the above example in his book ‘Staying Young and Getting Old’. He gives the tip to be inspired by the self-discipline and self-respect of Clint Eastwood. In other words, direct your life and continue to play a leading role, no matter how old you are!

Nelleke Noordervliet also has this message and says: “I don’t feel old. In fact, I’m not old. Being old is a ‘state of mind’ “. Fortunately, these sounds are being heard more and more often. A calendar age may tell you that you are old, but your psychological age ‘feels’ much younger.

The glass is half full

In short: let yourself be guided by the positive aspects of getting older. Always see new opportunities and challenges. Stay in control of your life. It keeps you feeling young. Plus, you’ll stay healthier and eventually age. In other words, stay young and you’ll grow old!

Baby boomers retire

The vast majority of older people are active, engaged, interested, helpful, curious and healthier than ever. We also notice this in our ‘Pension in sight’ training courses. The baby boomers of yesteryear are or will soon be retiring: self-confident and full of plans. It seems a matter of time before they will cause the image of the elderly to change. Essenburgh Training & Advice is happy to work with you on this!

Want to know more? Download the Pension in sight checklist! Want to learn more about how to prepare for your retirement years? Then take a look at our retirement in sight training.


Recommended Literature:

  • Aleman, A. (2014) The senior brain – the development of our brains after we are fifty Atlas Contact
  • Olde Rikkert M. (2015) Staying young and growing old Thoeris, publisher.
  • University of Toronto (2015) Stereotypes around aging can negatively impact memory and hearing Science Daily, December 9 <>.
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Ans Withaar

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