Even though existing evidence makes clear that negative self-talk about aging can have damaging consequences the practice continues. Why? Because everybody does it. Well, just because everybody does it does not mean it’s okay and by the way, not everybody does it, although more do it than don’t. It’s the power of custom and tradition at work.
Admit it: Are you guilty of saying the following?:
- “I must be getting old” when you do something klutzy. As if younger people are not klutzes at times.
- “I’m not as young as I used to be” when you look in the mirror. No kidding! No body is as young as they used to be. So what? Unless complaining about it motivates you to take action to improve what you see, why do it?
And the worst offender of all:
- “I’m having a senior moment” when you experience a memory lapse. When a teen has a memory lapse (and they have plenty of them!) it’s not shrugged off with “Oops, dude! I’m having a teen moment.”
Recent research from USC Davis School of Gerontology is a good reminder of the damage done when you tell yourself “I’m having a senior moment”:
“Of the many negative stereotypes that exist about older adults, the most common is that they are forgetful, senile and prone to so-called “senior moments.” In fact, while cognitive processes do decline with age, simply reminding older adults about ageist ideas actually exacerbate their memory problems, reveals important new research.”
“Older adults should be careful not to buy into negative stereotypes about aging — attributing every forgetful moment to getting older can actually worsen memory problems,” said Sarah Barber, a postdoctoral researcher at the USC Davis School and lead author of the study.
Could it be more clear? If you are prone to using your age to justify occourances of normal memory lapses, you need to cut it out! Give yourself time to recall and if you can’t recall, so what? Shrug it off and get on with your life. It’s not the end of the world! You will remember when you feel less stressed about remembering.
Here’s a tip to help stop behaviors that contribute to premature aging: Take charge of what goes on in your head. Refuse to pigeonhole yourself. If you do not identify yourself as a senior, you will be less inclined to think in terms of having a “senior moment” when having difficulty with recall. Remember, the word “senior” is loaded with subliminal cultural and traditional images and ideas of decline that burrow into the nooks and crannies of your subconscious and wield tremendous power over how you think and live. If you reject the senior designation and instead, declare yourself a competent and mature adult, you can enjoy an entirely different, more fulfilling life at a stage of life when others are focused on and stressed out about having so-called “senior moments.”
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