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Aging & Society

Five Things to Celebrate in New Attitudes Toward Aging

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Attitudes toward aging are changing to recognize that our later years can be deeply satisfying, creative and fulfilling and may even be among the happiest of our life. Here are five examples of this positive change.

“Anti-Aging” Is Beginning to Fall Out of Favor. In August, a beauty magazine announced that it would no longer use the term “anti-aging.”1 “Changing the way we think about aging starts with changing the way we talk about aging,” the editor wrote in the issue. They didn’t want to reinforce the message that aging is a condition we need to battle. “Growing older is a wonderful thing,” she says, “because it means that we get a chance, every day, to live a full, happy life.”

A couple of days later, AARP followed suit, announcing it will ban “anti-aging” from all its publications.2  “AARP believes,” the nonprofit organization announced, “that growing older should be celebrated and embraced, and it will continue to challenge the outdated beliefs and stereotypes that foster negative associations around aging.”

Combating Ageism is Gaining Strength. In the spirit of mobilizing against sexism in the 60s and 70s, a pro-aging movement is taking hold. Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, is a leading spokeswoman. Her “Let’s End Ageism” TED Talk was viewed over one million times in six months. Applewhite suggests, “moving from denying aging to accepting it, and even embracing it.” One way to begin that journey is through a consciousness-raising group that explores personal experiences and beliefs around aging. You can find tips on how to get a group started on Applewhite’s website.

The Beauty of Older Women is Taking Center Stage. The newest “face” for CoverGirl is a 69-year-old, longtime model, nutritionist and mother of three.  A host of other women over 60 have also been featured in beauty and fashion campaigns. These campaigns help us see what might be facing us in our very own mirror: beauty that deepens with the decades.

Older Actors Are Playing More Than Grandparents. Sure, youth may still rule in Hollywood, but we’re also seeing older performers in starring roles that portray them living full, vibrant, ever-changing lives. Older characters are now tackling everything from starting a business to starting a romance in later life, and rediscovering who you really are in your eighth decade.

There’s an International Movement to Make Neighborhoods Better Places for People to Grow Old.  In 2007, the World Health Organization Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities was launched. It’s an effort to encourage and connect cities that are making efforts to create an environment that may help improve the quality of life for residents as they grow older. Elements that allow people to age in place include everything from safe, affordable and walkable neighborhoods, activities like tai chi in the park and community gardens that are designed for people 50 and older, and opportunities to participate fully in social and civic life. AARP’s "Age-Friendly Resource Guide" contains toolkits on how your community and you can become involved in creating ideal places to grow older.

References:

1. Allure Magazine Will No Longer Use the Term "Anti-Aging."

2. AARP Says Goodbye to "Anti-Aging."

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