Life expectancy has changed dramatically for the current generation, but attitudes towards aging have been slow to catch up. Ageism is real in the workplace and positive aging is not well-represented in advertising. TV advertising in particular portrays people over 50 as interested in nothing more than Depends, Viagra, and Medicare.
On the flip side, we’re finally seeing more movies starring women over 50 such as Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diane Keaton, Judi Dench, and Maggie Smith, and men such as Colin Firth, Bill Murray, Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Richard Gere, and Nicolas Cage. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was loved by all ages and starred a mostly senior cast.
Print media is waking up to both the appeal and the huge demographic. Women over 50 represent a buying segment no marketer can afford to ignore, controlling net worth of $19 trillion and owning more than three-fourths of the nation’s financial wealth.
Marketers and casting agents, take note.
In 2012, Baby Boomers represented approximately a quarter of the US population. With this reality, it’s imperative that we re-examine our attitudes towards aging, and develop a more positive attitude individually and collectively.
What Is Positive Aging?
Positive aging focuses on ditching the stereotypes and taking a fresh view of growing older, but not old. It’s a composite of new options and attitudes regarding living arrangements, health care, relationships, vitality, self-sufficiency, and adaptability.
At its heart and soul, positive aging is a grass-roots effort that begins with each of us. Society and media will adapt as we as individuals adopt more positive attitudes and expectations.
15 Tips for Positive Aging
- Age doesn’t matter. Period.
- Think out of the box – Where do you want to live? How do you want to live? How do you want to shape your days? We have a multitude of options previous generations never dreamed possible.
- Stay physically active – Physical exercise is good for our bodies and minds, but it isn’t necessary to join a gym. Walking, yoga, and dance are also good choices. Being active is good for bones, muscles and joints, it improves brain function, and promotes good sleep.
- Exercise your brain – Read. Do puzzles and word games. Do daily activities differently. Try new foods and activities. Switch up your routine. Adopt a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset.
- Stay connected to other people – Isolation damages your brain and impairs your health. Nurture your family and friends. Volunteer. Go back to work doing something you enjoy. Join a club. Tutor a student.
- Create positive emotions for yourself – Practice optimism. Smile; you’ll immediately feel happier. Let go of the past, of hurts and disappointments. Break up with unhelpful habits. Create new happier habits.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff - Accept what you can’t do. No one can do everything. Ask for help. People like to help. When you catch yourself worrying about the future or fretting about the past, switch gears. Be flexible. Go with the flow.
- Set goals – Give yourself an interesting reason to get up in the mornings. Taking steps towards a goal delivers a sense of meaning and purpose. Achieving a goal gives you a sense of clout in your life.
- Pursue new interests – New interests are gymnastics for your brain. Bonus: They expand your life pleasure and introduce you to new people.
- Address stress – It isn’t possible to eliminate stress, but there are helpful ways to cope. Learn to unwind. Take a shower or bubble bath. Take a walk. Drink tea. Practice meditation, mindfulness, or relaxation techniques. Talk with a therapist or friend. The worst thing you can do is ignore it or pretend it isn’t there. It will only fester.
- Get regular checkups – Preventive health is your best ally. Regular screenings by the practitioners of your choice lead to healthy habits and early detection.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle – One size does not fit all. You and your health care providers can best decide what constitutes healthy eating, adequate sleep, optimal exercise, good weight management, and a healthy mind for you.
- Ditch the judgmental inner voice – Or find a better way to manage it. We can’t control the thoughts that pop into our heads, but we can decide how to deal with negative thoughts when they arise. While you’re at it, ditch the criticism, too. Both of self and others.
- Reframe failures – Broken relationships? Lost jobs? Failure is a powerful teacher if you decide it’s a catapult instead of a trap.
- It is never too late to start one of these behaviors.
Anne Wade is the founder and publisher of The Soulmate Dance. She is a writer, educator, life coach, and lifelong student of soulmate relationships, devoted to expanding our understanding of all types of soulmate relationships and experiences.