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WHO are you calling old?

Family with multi generationA few decades ago, the age of 50 was considered “old”. This had most likely been based on a definition in the British Friendly Societies Act of 1875. Friendly Societies paid out old-age pensions and the Act defined “old age” as 50 and above.

Often, old age is seen as a time of frailty and gradual decline. On the other hand, the media also portrays it as a time of leisure and freedom from financial restraint. Each person’s experiences are unique. But such contemporary stereotypes about aging can have a big impact on the decisions people make and the attitudes they adopt.

These stereotypes can even affect people’s physical and cognitive health. Constantly exposing older people to negative stereotypes about age can cause them to internalize the messages and act accordingly.

An article published in the Journal of Geriatrics referred to a study which concluded that seniors who were subtly labelled “incompetent” or “senile” before taking memory tests performed worse than the seniors who were exposed to more positive labels. A different study found that negative subliminal age-related messages caused a rise in cardiovascular stress levels both before and after mentally challenging activities.

Recently, the World Health Organization has done new research based on life expectancy and average health quality. As a result, human age has been divided into the following categories:

0-17 years: underage

18-65 years: youth or young people

66-79 years: middle-aged

80-99 years: elderly or senior

100+ years: long-lived elderly

Changing society’s perception of old age can motivate older people to remain healthy and active, and to retain a positive attitude about what their future still holds for them.

If you have any questions about the health or alignment of your spine or that of your loved ones, Dr. Erin McLaughlin and Dr. Pierre Paradis are here to help. If you live or work in Kanata and the surrounding area, contact us today or give us a call at (613) 831-9665.

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