Respect may potentially save lives of elderly

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WASHINGTON: Respecting elders has always been held as a benchmark for good behavior. And now, there is scientific evidence that respect can potentially save lives among the elderly and keep them both physically and mentally healthy.

A report published in CNN cites an analysis, conducted by the global journalism network Orb Media which found that countries with high levels of respect for the elderly recorded better health among older populations and lower poverty levels for over-60s.

Speaking about the findings, Becca Levy, professor of public health and psychology at Yale School of Public Health, said negative attitudes are due to “the growing medicalisation of older adults” and “the growing anti-aging industry that promotes and actually profits from a fear of aging.”

She further added that negative stereotypes can be dangerous to older people in a number of ways, including shortening their lives.

The study found Levy analysing interviews with 660 people from Oxford, Ohio, that were conducted over more than two decades and matching these with mortality information.

Her team found that those with a positive attitude toward aging lived on average 7.5 years longer than those who viewed it as something bad. According to the study, positive thinking can better behaviour by leading people to engage in healthier lifestyles such as exercise. The study added that a person’s positivity can also improve their psychology, making them better at coping with stress — a contributor to memory loss and brain shrinkage.