Want to know the key to living longer? Stop stressing about living longer.
Scientists and researchers have found that the weight of thinking about aging is a stressor proven to affect cardiovascular health and cognitive function and can slow down the way a person walks, making them less active.
It can cause someone to withdraw and become isolated; the effects of loneliness have the health impact of smoking 15 cigarettes a day, researchers have found.
But having a better outlook on aging is not easy to do, says Dr. Erwin Tan, director of Thought Leadership-Health for AARP.
At the World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics last week, Tan was one of many leaders urging a call to action to “disrupt aging” and fight back against the negative stereotypes associated with getting older.
He said people’s exposure to this negativity is rising as rapidly as the population is aging. In the U.S. alone, someone turns President Trump’s age of 71 about every eight seconds.
“Attitudes and stereotypes about aging haven’t changed with the times or have gotten worse,” Tan said. “Too often the way aging is portrayed in the media or even in conversations among families and friends is negative and out of sync with the lives many older people lead.”
Tan said being more positive leads to being more active, having more friends and fewer hospitalizations. He said eschewing those negative stereotypes and being comfortable with the aging process can add seven more years of life.
“We have to address this because it affects our health,” Tan said. “It’s not only nice, it’s necessary.”