Old age is an inevitability we all must face. Depending on culture, old age is painted in several ways. To some, aging means feebleness, frailty, and being past your prime. To others, it’s a symbol of wisdom, a reason for respect. Sometimes it’s both. So how do people feel about aging today? Is age discrimination still a thing in 2016? And what does it mean to “grow old gracefully”?
How Do We Define Aging, and What Causes It?
The truth is, nobody really knows what triggers physical aging. Aging isn’t just a matter of time. Genetic and environmental factors have a big impact on how we physically age.
There’s so much more to aging than how long you’ve been alive for. It’s the accumulation of all the changes in a human body over time: physical, psychological, and social.
You might have heard people say something along the lines of “they’re sixty, but a young sixty” about a particular person, either because someone is young at heart or because they look younger than they are.
The rate of change is different for everyone. Long-term biological processes don’t have much regard for the way we structure our calendars. Mental health can remain unaffected while physical health deteriorates. Personal changes and losses can affect your integration into wider society. It’s a complex web of factors.
What we do know is that physical aging happens because our cells change as we get older. Senescence (the technical term for biological aging) is a complex process in advanced organisms like us humans. After decades of research and testing, we’re still no closer to discovering the triggers, but there is plenty of evidence supporting ways to counteract the effects of aging.
Attitudes towards Aging
Everyone has their own personal attitude towards aging. Some are anxious about becoming unable to do things they used to do. There are health concerns – and of course the looming prospect of death.
Death and the fear of death seem to be common themes at all ages when talking about aging, with the attitude to death changing from absolute fear to near-acceptance.
Attitudes about growing older tend to change with age. Strangely, it seems the older we get, the calmer we feel about dying. Younger people, especially when first realizing their own mortality, can feel some really strong negative emotions about death.
Some people take a more easy-going, “whatever will be, will be” attitude, as long as they have their health. Not wanting to become a burden to family and friends is a key trend too.
In the great conversation of age and the human condition, isolation` and loneliness tend to pop up less among the young. That feeling of being surrounded with family and friends and having people to rely on can sadly fade away as we get older.
Sometimes called ageism, the stereotyping and discrimination of people based on their age has played important roles culturally, societally, and politically.
It applies to all ages. Young people are subjected to prejudice and stereotypes just as the elderly can be. But when we’re talking about age discrimination, we’re usually referring to older members of society.
Attitudes to the elderly vary by culture and subculture, by status, and by personal values. It does feel, however, as though there has been a renaissance era of appreciation for older people, particularly in the West: terms like “silver fox” and “cougar” break the conceived notion that getting older means you’re no longer desirable or sexy. Aging and elderly celebrities have given a sense of empowerment in the media. Even advertising in the last decade has become more inclusive and age-representative.
But this kind of progress isn’t universal and there are still so many stereotypes about older people that usually center on how they look. We age and our bodies change; the sentiments on this topic range from light-hearted, self-deprecating jokes to body confidence and bullying.
That’s right – you’re never too old to be bullied.
Getting Old Gracefully
How is it achieved? Many believe it’s a state of mind: not allowing yourself to change because of how old you are. There’s the idea that plastic surgery and attempts to reverse the aging process are somewhat against the natural way, which is true to some extent.
There are less intrusive ways to fend off the effects of aging. Our extensive range of antiaging products are available to do just that – to give your body the best chance of staying in good shape for as long as possible.
For a healthy mind, staying physically active is just as important as being mentally active. Memory supplements can also help keep your mind energized and alert.
Remember: you’re only as old as you feel.