Newly published research led by the Yale School of Public Health demonstrates that individuals who hold negative beliefs about aging are more likely to have brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
“We believe it is the stress generated by the negative beliefs about aging that individuals sometimes internalize from society that can result in pathological brain changes,” said Becca Levy, associate professor of public health and of psychology. “Although the findings are concerning, it is encouraging to realize that these negative beliefs about aging can be mitigated and positive beliefs about aging can be reinforced, so that the adverse impact is not inevitable.”
This is just another research result that supports the notion that what you think about expands, that your attitude impacts your life in real, physical ways.
Once upon a time, women in the “Crone” phase of their life (Maiden, Matron, Crone) were respected and valued. The younger generation looked to the older generation for advice and wisdom. The attitude about aging was more positive.
But something has happened to our culture here in the U.S. (perhaps other countries, as well). We’ve become enamored of youth and so many women (and men) fear aging. The negative attitude about aging is so strong, that people will undergo potentially dangerous treatments just to look younger.
Did you know that it is harder to find a new job if you are over 40? And now with technology changing so rapidly, many “older” people are finding it hard to keep up, especially with younger generation who are practically raised with technology.
However, you don’t have to let statistics like that get you down. Think about the results of the Yale study: If you have negative thoughts about getting older, you literally change the chemistry of your brain in a negative way.
So why not think positively about your future, no matter what your age? I can tell you from experience that having a positive outlook on life is much more fun than harboring a negative one!
Negative thoughts bring you down. They can make you lethargic. They can make you focus on what is not right with your world. They can become addictive and cyclical, leading to a variety of mental and physical health problems.
Turn Your Attitude Around
My challenge to you is this: If you find yourself having negative thoughts or ideas about getting older, start to reprogram them into more positive thoughts. Write down your negative attitudes and rephrase them into positive attitudes. For example:
- “elderly people are decrepit” can become “elderly people are more and more vibrant every year”
- “age lines are ugly” can become “age lines show my accumulated wisdom”
- “getting older means getting sicker” can become “getting older provides incentive to live more healthfully”
To learn more about the Yale study, visit news.yale.edu/2015/12/07/negative-beliefs-about-aging-predict-alzheimer-s-disease-yale-led-study