We’ve all heard them, and perhaps even said them ourselves – those little “niceties” intended to make seniors feel less aged, such as, “Here you go, ‘young’ lady!” And while comments such as these may seem harmless, and even helpful to boost a senior’s self-esteem, recent studies are pointing to a polar opposite effect of these stereotypical comments and actions, resulting in changes as drastic as increased amyloid plaques in the brain: known Alzheimer’s biomarkers.
Conversely, older adults who were subjected to positive, respectful aging terms during a study exhibited consistently marked lower heart rates and blood pressure. “Positive age stereotypes act as a buffer to everyday stressors and challenges,” according to Becca Levy of the Yale School of Public Health.
The Huffington Post offers some suggestions on aging microaggressions to avoid, including:
- Referring to older adults in infantile terms, like “adorable”
- Stereotyping seniors as being tech-challenged
- Using a patronizing tone, such as speaking with exaggerated slowness or using a high pitched voice
Together, we can break through the stereotypical negatives of aging through encouraging and motivating our beloved elders with the respect and honor they so greatly deserve.
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