THE MYTH ABOUT AGEISM
Age unfortunately silos and fixes an expiry date for our Do’s and Don’ts (more importantly, the moment one hits half a century)! Life is too short and too sweet to let go off it with regrets. So, let’s live it to the fullest!!
Self: The influence of the mind over the body has a major influence on the ageing process. The intimacy of the mind and the body can be compared to the power dynamics in any relationship. The body is an obedient student of the mind. The classic example would be the study of Harvard psychological scientist Ellen Langer who has been studying how the mind influences the body for over three decades. In one classic study, she had old men live in a retreat that was retrofitted to look like it was 20 years earlier, while they pretended that they were living in that year. “Their minds were in the past. Their vision improved, their strength improved, and so on,” she says.
In one study by Langer and her colleagues, women had their hair cut and dyed at a hair salon, and volunteers looked at before and after pictures of the women. Those women who believed having their hair dyed made them look younger actually did look younger after the salon visit, according to the observers who were shown photos of their faces only. Women who didn’t believe they looked younger with dyed hair didn’t have that benefit.
The above studies clearly reinforce that if we think and feel young, the SIXTIES can be SIXTEEN at heart!
Ageing is a natural process, but it has become a social problem. Attributing a person’s inability to ageism is very common. One of the classic example would be that of a senior walking on the sidewalk who trips and has a fall. What do you think would be the immediate reaction of the passers-by? This is why old people need to stay indoors and do things they are capable of!! One foot in the grave and behaving like a sixteen year old!! Even I was not spared, when I enrolled myself for a Bollywood workshop with Shiamak Davar at the age of 52 and was part of “The Vagina monologues” at 58. Tongues wagged “What is this old lady doing here and what can she do”? Nothing deterred me from doing what I was passionate about as I strongly believe that we need to raise above all these to love and respect the self.
So we see that the society decides the lifestyle choices of a senior. Even a youngster might have had a fall, but we would attribute that to negligence!! Geriatric studies have proved that if a person is positive and people around them also are positive, their longevity increases by SEVEN and a half years! Even the onset of Alzheimers is delayed if they are socially active. Then, why do we look at them with a different eye and not allow them to lead a life of their choice?? Ageism has joined the bandwagon of other ISMs, casteism, racism, colorism and sexism to name a few!
The author is a teacher, counselor, history walker and Founder of Theatre for Change.
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