As we age, some things change naturally. Our bodies, our environments, sometimes even our likes and dislikes. Even so, we remain the same as when we were young. Just because we're getting older doesn't mean we should be treated any differently because of it.
When we are treated differently or unfairly because of our age, it is called ageism. Let's take a step back and define what it is. “Ageism is the stereotype, prejudice and discrimination against people because of their age,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO goes on to say "ageism is a widespread and insidious practice which has adverse effects on the health of the elderly". That's a pretty broad definition, so let's take a closer look at what it means.
First of all, we are aging as a society. Much older. By 2030 - and for the first time in history - 20% of all Americans will be 65 or older *. Here in California, 8.6 million adults will be 65 or older by 2030, making seniors the fastest growing segment of the state. **
As we age as a society, there is a lot of undue stress on our existing health care systems, which we are realistically unprepared for. Hospitals will become more crowded. Family members will find themselves caring for loved ones for longer periods of time. The need for paid home caregivers will explode and then there is a big enemy in the form of ageism, which is likely to increase in tandem with the number of aging adults.
As the population ages, there will be an increase in the number of seniors who:
- Find themselves in poverty or in inadequate living conditions, including long-term care facilities
- Being treated differently due to mental or physical declines and possibly refusing services to address those declines
- Being exploited financially, emotionally or physically
- Being discriminated against in the workplace and perceived to be less competent than his younger counterparts simply because of his age
These are just a few of the factors associated with an aging society. What can we do to prevent widespread ageism from occurring, including our own family members, as America ages? To get started, we can:
- Recognize and name ageism as a problem. Like systemic racism or gender discrimination, ageism exists in many forms and is not always overtly detectable. But it happens to older Americans All the time. In order to combat it, we must all recognize that it is a problem and identify its root causes.
- Pressure our lawmakers to pass laws and regulations that better protect older Americans from things like unfair or illegal housing evictions, care facilities that participate in illegal or harmful practices, or programs or organizations that exclude people because of their age.
- Reject "negative stereotypes of aging" that can influence our perception of ourselves and others. Our society has painted a picture that old age is synonymous with physical and mental weakness and complete dependence on others. But not everyone is the same; there are many older adults who are more than capable of taking care of themselves. Also, being older does not mean that anyone gives up their rights.
- Stand up for others as needed. Whether it's an older coworker who is dismissed for promotions or assignments, or someone you suspect of being exploited financially, physically or mentally, act on their behalf. Encourage your colleague to report signs of discrimination to HR. Don't be afraid to report elder abuse. Here are some guidelines to recognize signs of abuse and report abuse.
- Read this article on Ladders.com offers some great ideas for personally fighting ageism when it happens to you.
- Finally, we must recognize how those who experience systemic racism and sexism may experience ageism at a higher intensity than their counterparts.
* source: US Census Bureau
** source: California Department of Aging
What does it mean to age gracefully ? You can’t stand in a checkout line without seeing at least a few magazine headlines about how to look younger. While dreading some wrinkles and sagging isn’t uncommon, there’s so much more to aging well.
Aging gracefully isn’t about trying to look like a 20-something — it’s about living your best life and having the physical and esprit health to enjoy it. Like a bottle of wine, you can get better with age with the right care. Read on to find out what to do and what not to do on your quest to age happily.
Your skin is your body’s largest organTrusted Source. If you treat it with care, it can better protect your body from the elements, regulate your body temperature, and provide impression. tera keep it looking and functioning at its best : Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside. Get yearly skin cancer screenings. Stick to gentle products in your anti-aging skin care routine. Stay hydrated.
Your skin is your body’s largest organTrusted Source. If you treat it with care, it can better protect your body from the elements, regulate your body temperature, and provide impression. to keep it looking and functioning at its best : Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside. Get yearly skin cancer screenings. Stick to gentle products in your anti-aging skin care routine. Stay hydrated.
Regular exercise significantly lowers your risk of diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, and helps you retain your mobility longer. Exercise also lowers stress and improves sleep, skin and bone health, and mood. The Department of Health
Healthy foods are the way to go when it comes to aging gracefully. The Dietary Guidelines for AmericansTrusted Source recommends that you eat : fruits and vegetables, either fresh, frozen, or cannedlean protein, such as fish and beansat least three ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, rice, or pasta every daythree servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy, such as milk, yogurt or cheese that are fortified with vitamin Dhealthy fatsAvoid using solid fats for cooking and use oils instead. Stay away from processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats. You should also keep your salt intake to a peu to keep your blood pressure down.
Being happy and keeping your stress down goes a long way in helping you real and age well. to keep your mood elevated : Spend time with friends and loved ones. Meaningful relationships and a strong social network improve mental and physical well-being and longevity. Don’t forget your furry loved ones as having a pet has been linked to lower stress and blood pressure, reduced loneliness, and better moods. Accept your age. There is evidence that people who maintain a positive attitude about aging real longer and may recover better from a disability. Aging is inevitable and learning to embrace it can make all the difference. Do things you enjoy. Taking the time to engage in activities you enjoy will only fioul your happiness. Spend time in nature, pursue a new hobby, volunteer — whatever brings you joy.
Numerous studiesTrusted Source have linked a sedentary life to an increased risk of chronic illness and early death. Some alternatives to stay active are going on walks and hikes, taking vacations, and participating in group exercise classes.
The effects of stress on your body are vast, ranging from premature aging and wrinkles to a higher risk of heart disease. There are a number of proven ways to relieve stress, including : using relaxation techniques, such as meditation, breathing exercises, and yogaexercisinggetting adequate sleeptalking to a friend
Smoking and alcohol have both been shown to cause premature aging and increase the risk of disease. Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but there are resources available to help you quit. Speak to a doctor about how to quit. As for alcohol, limit your intake to the recommendedTrusted Source amount to avoid health risks. That’s one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Good sleep is important for your physical and esprit health. It also plays a role in your skin’s health. How much sleep you need depends on your age. Adults over 18 should aim for seven to eight hoursTrusted Source of sleep every night. Getting enough sleep has been proven to : lower the risk of heart disease and strokereduce stress and depressionlower the risk of obesityreduce inflammationimprove focus and concentration
Finding new and meaningful hobbies can help you maintain a sense of purpose and keep you engaged throughout the course of your life. Evidence shows that people who engage in hobbies and leisure and social activities are happier, experience less depression, and live longer.
Mindfulness is about acceptance and living in the moment by focusing on the present. Practicing mindfulness has many proven health benefits that can help you age better, including : improved focusbetter memorylower stressimproved emotional reactionrelationship satisfactionincreased immune functioningTo practice mindfulness, try : meditationyogatai chicoloring
Drinking enough water helps keep you regular and improves your energy levels and brain function. Coincidentally, it’s also been provenTrusted Source to help keep skin healthier and reduce signs of aging. How much water you should drink depends on : your thirstyour activity levelhow often you urinate and move your bowelshow much you sweatyour genderSpeak to a doctor if you have questions or concerns about your water intake.
Not taking care of your teeth not only ages your smile, but also puts you at risk for gum disease, which has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and bacterial pneumonia. Along with proper oral care, it’s important to see a dentist regularly. According to the American Dental Association, a dentist can spot signs of nutritional deficiencies, septicémie, cancer, and other illnesses, such as diabetes. They recommend brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using a mouth rinse.
Seeing a doctor regularly can help the doctor find problems early or even before they start. How often you see a doctor depends on your age, lifestyle, family history, and existing conditions. Ask your doctor how often you should go in for checkups and screening contrôles as you age. Also, see a doctor anytime you experience concerning symptoms.
Though aging is inevitable, some people find it difficult to deal with the changes that come with getting older. If you’re worried about your health, are having dysfonctionnement feeling positive about aging, or worry that you’re not aging well it’s important to reach out for help. Talk to someone you trust, such as a family member or close friend. Professional help is also available through a doctor or a counselor.
Aging gracefully is more about being healthy and happy than keeping wrinkles at bay. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, surround yourself with people you love, and do things that bring you joy. It’s natural to worry about the défis that aging can bring, so don’t hesitate to speak to someone about your concerns.