Your thoughts about aging process can fulfill negative stereotypes – The Topeka Capital-Journal

I received a message from a website that offers advice for a healthy lifestyle. The headline was, “It is not about your stomach; It’s about your MIND.”

I had to smile because I recognized the simplicity of the statement, but at the same time, it is one of those truths we ignore. Since 73.6% of adults over 20 in the United States are considered overweight, there is obviously a problem.

So figuring out where the problem lies is essential in dealing with the issue. It is simple: Overeating is guided by the brain, not the stomach. We are either bored, anxious, fearful, sad or depressed, so we satisfy our emotions by filling our stomachs.

So it makes sense to investigate what’s going on in our brains that is dictating our actions.

I believe this is an insight into the health issues surrounding aging. Maybe it is not about your age; maybe it’s about your MIND. If we use age as the reason for all of our illnesses as we age, we’re putting the blame in the wrong place.

I’ve preached this message before, and it is supported by excellent research. Your attitude about aging can add — or subtract — years from your life.

One of the leading researchers in this area is Becca Levy, Ph.D. Her studies focus on how psychological factors, particularly older individuals’ perceptions of aging, affect cognition and health in old age.

In a follow-up to the Ohio Longitudinal Study on Aging, Levy found those who expressed a more positive self-perception of aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those holding more negative perceptions.

We have lived with old age stereotypes for so long we don’t even recognize them. We are inundated with old folk’s jokes, the not-so-funny birthday cards, the anti-aging cosmetic ads, the focus on the youth culture.

People are afraid to tell their age as if it is a contagious disease.

Our brains are filled with these labels, creating a quiet depression about our upcoming birthdays. We are talking here about health hazards, just like obesity.

In addition to that, our trusted primary care physicians may fall into that same trap when they automatically attribute our aches and pains to age.

There is a famous anecdote about a 97-year-old man with a painful left knee. He goes to a doctor who takes a history and does an exam. There’s no sign of trauma, and the doctor says: “Hey, the knee is 97 years old. What do you expect?” And the patient says, “But my right knee is 97, and it doesn’t hurt a bit.”

Funny, but true.

Check your thoughts. You might suffer from stinkin’ thinkin’!

Find Connie’s book, “Daily Cures: Wisdom for Healthy Aging,” at www.justnowoldenough.com.

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