Attitudes make all the difference
Age Concern New Zealand warns that ageism can kill; our Patron's Award for the media recognises positive attitudes.
Research shows that seniors' life expectancy can be shortened by the negative attitudes they face.
A study by Yale University researcher Dr Becca Levy shows that negative attitudes can shorten people's lives.
Dr Levy interviewed people as they aged over a period of 20 years. She found that older people who had more positive self-perceptions of aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions. Ageism can have an impact on memory, balance, and lead to lower rates of illness survival.
"Age Concern's workers see older people who lose the will to live," says Age Concern New Zealand national president Liz Baxendine. "Everyone needs something to live for, but some older people are made to feel worthless by being ignored, belittled or subjected to elder abuse and neglect."
Everyone can help by treating older people as people – not just stereotypes.
Older New Zealanders need respect, and Age Concern is taking constructive steps to achieve this.
"We want to acknowledge and encourage media people who are communicating the good news about the over 65s – the fastest-growing part of the population," Mrs Baxendine says.
"Positive attitudes breed positive behaviour, and the media has the power to change attitudes about older people and ageing. Dr Levy's research shows the media has a real opportunity to increase life expectancy."
The Patron's award is awarded to the individual or company that best communicates positive attitudes about older people.
> VISIT our Patron's Award page for more information
> DOWNLOAD our brochure/entry form [PDF file, 0.2MB]
Dr Becca Levy
Becca Levy, Ph.D. is the lead researcher of a study conducted at Yale University's Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. Dr Levy's findings appear in the August issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).
Dr Levy has written widely on the harmful effects of ageism, in fields as diverse as older people's exclusion from sexually-transmitted disease treatment, through to identifying depressed older people by the decline in their handwriting penmanship.
Other references to research on ageism can be found at Global Action on Ageing