When you think of ageism, you likely think of something negative, such as calling someone a derogatory term, like “geezer,” or “old man.” However, ageism often comes in a seemingly polite package as well. You’ve likely heard, or maybe even said something like the following to an older adult: “You’ve been married for 60 years? That’s so adorable!” or “Happy 80th birthday, ‘young’ lady!”
While comments such as these may seem harmless, and are usually meant to help boost a senior’s self-esteem, recent studies indicate that they may be having the opposite effect, 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
In a society that over-values youth, it’s time to build up our seniors. 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.
At Regency Home Care of Georgia, we work hard to create positive, engaging environments for our senior clients, providing the respect, dignity, and care they need and deserve. Contact us to learn more about our north Atlanta home health care solutions and how we can help your loved ones.