Do you ever have one of those days where every time you misplace something or can’t recall a name, you call it a “senior moment”?
Usually, we think of ageism as something that happens to us. But far too often, we internalize these outdated views and negative stereotypes on aging.
Instead of saying you’re having a “senior moment,” why not remind yourself that it's understandable you might forget something or miss an appointment, given how busy and active you are.
Here are some ways we can challenge the belief that aging is bad and accept a healthier attitude toward aging.
1. Monitor your media.
Advertisements, films, television shows and other forms of media can depict older adults as frail, dependent or technologically challenged. These portrayals contribute to internalized ageism.
Today, there are a lot of books, shows and movies that illustrate older adults in a positive light. It's important to seek those out to remind yourself aging is completely natural. We don't just disappear the moment we turn a certain age.
Also, try following people your own age on social media and get inspired by how they are aging in a healthy and positive way.
2. Connect with friends.
Social isolation is a huge issue as we age. Feeling like a vital part of a group can improve self-esteem and avoid internalizing ageism.
Engaging with people of all ages — younger than and older than yourself — can help you feel more connected to the community and improve your wellbeing.
3. Make age “work” for you.
Age-related biases often affect older people in the workplace. When we internalize this type of age-discrimination, we might start to doubt our abilities or skip chances for personal growth or career advancement.
At Right at Home, where I work, we have two professional caregivers who are in their 80s. They use their age and experience to relate to our clients. For them, age serves not as a weakness, but as a source of strength that helps them serve others better.
4. Make healthy choices.
Believing in negative age-related stereotypes and thinking of oneself as “old” or “frail” can cause stress, anxiety and depression.
Do not, however, downplay or dismiss health concerns, believing that certain symptoms or conditions are inevitable consequences of aging. This can result in delayed diagnosis, untreated health conditions or inadequate self-care.
Overall, internalized ageism can decrease a person’s quality of life. Let’s all do our part to challenge ageist beliefs and promote healthy aging.
Lauren Miller is the owner of Right at Home, which provides a wide range of in-home care options for seniors and adults with disabilities.