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Does your retirement planning include how you think? Positive views and negative views on aging matter. Yale professor Dr. Becca Levy’s ground-breaking research shows how age beliefs can benefit the aging process, including the extension of life expectancy by 7.5 years. Today’s culture brings a steady stream of negative messages on aging, but you can challenge those messages and cultivate positive age beliefs.
Dr. Becca Levy, the leading authority on how beliefs about aging influence aging health, is Professor of Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health and Professor of Psychology at Yale University. Her pathfinding studies have changed the way we think about aging and have received awards from the American Psychological Association, the Gerontological Society of America, and the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics. Dr. Levy has given invited testimony before the US Senate on the adverse effects of ageism and has contributed to US Supreme Court briefs to fight age-discrimination. She serves as a scientific advisor to the World Health Organization’s Campaign to Combat Ageism.
For More on Dr. Becca Levy
Breaking the Age Code: How Your Beliefs About Aging Determine How Long and Well You Live
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On Positive Age Beliefs
“People who took in more positive age beliefs at the start of the study they had a median survival advantage over those who took in more negative age beliefs. They had a median survival advantage of seven and a half years.”
On Role Models
“It can be really important to increase awareness of some of the negative messaging and challenge it. But also I think it’s important to find ways to strengthen some of the positive older role models or positive images of aging that are around us. And so something that we found that can be effective is to record what I call a portfolio of diverse and positive images of aging. What that involves is writing down say five or so positive older role models. And some of them can be from your own life, It could be a great aunt, a great uncle and some of them could be from the general world at large or from current events, a great scientist that you know about. It would be good to come up with somebody that you admire for a different reason so that’s where the diversity of images come up. So if you list one person you may admire because they have a great sense of humor, and another one could be because they’ve got a great work ethic, or a great sense of social justice. So for each person it’s good to think about a quality that you really admire about that person that you would like to strengthen in yourself. And we found that actively engaging in these different older role models can also start to strengthen some of our our positive age beliefs.”
From Declining to Thriving
“The most important message is that even though we know that these age beliefs are taken in at a very young age from the culture and they can be reinforced over time, we also know that they’re not set in stone. So they’re malleable. We can change them. And I think that has implications for us as a society that we could actively try to promote an age liberation movement that reduces or eliminates ageism and promotes and celebrates aging, and finds opportunities for people across generations. It also suggests that on an individual level, there are things that we can do to shift the negative age messaging from messages of decline to messages of thriving, by actively curating the messages that we take in and reinforcing the messages of aging that are encouraging inclusivity and celebrating aging.”
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He’s the author of Win the Retirement Game: How to Outsmart the 9 Forces Trying to Steal Your Joy coming this summer.
Intro and Outro voiceovers by Ross Huguet.