Meta-Age is changing a socially acceptable prejudice – Ageism.
THE QUESTION IS, what can we do as individuals and as a society to promote more positive ageing?
Meta-Age – the ability to live a healthier, longer life is the re-imagining of a more beneficial relationship with our older selves. It's not something to be avoided at all costs.
Negative and inaccurate stereotypes are so culturally ingrained that we often don’t even notice they can harm us all.
It is clear, however, that ageism has a host of adverse effects on people’s physical and mental well-being and society as a whole. Moreover, the negative stereotypes that fuel ageism often get ageing all wrong.
Ageing stereotypes busted
Ageism is a stubborn prejudice. People of all ages show bias against older adults, though how they express it changes over their lifespan.
Either way, the attitudes that underlie age bias are often rooted in falsehoods. While it is true that the risk of some chronic diseases and dementia increases with age, most older adults maintain pretty good health and cognitive functioning.
As people age, they tend to become more agreeable and more conscientious. Older adults also tend to be better at regulating their emotions. These changes often mean we get along better with others and may pay better attention to health or put ourselves in fewer risky situations. Surveys indicate that older people with a resilient mindset report greater happiness and life satisfaction than younger people.
How ageism hurts everyone
The narrative that age is a burden hurts everyone: individuals, families, communities, and society.
Ageism in the workplace affects hiring and promotion decisions. In medical settings, stereotypes associated with ageing may influence treatment decisions.
In the mental health field, most psychotherapists don’t receive adequate education in geropsychology; age bias and stereotypes can influence their attitudes and practices.
Internalised beliefs and societal messages about ageing impact a person’s health and well-being. People with more negative age beliefs tend to show worse physical, cognitive, and mental health.
Age-related beliefs affect health in multiple ways. People with negative feelings about getting older will experience higher levels of stress, which has been linked to many diseases of ageing.
Also, people who feel fatalistic about getting older are less likely to have a healthy lifestyle, such as staying active or taking prescribed medications.
The effects extend beyond dementia; negative self-perceptions of ageing are associated with a higher prevalence for all of the eight most expensive health conditions, which include heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, and injuries.
Ageist stereotypes challenged
The most effective interventions combine education about ageing with efforts to increase inter-generational contact. One of the biggest threats to reframing attitudes toward ageing lies in the increasing age segregation of society. Young people have little contact with older people outside of intermittent family connections.
Meta-Age targets middle-aged adults to improve their outlook toward their ageing process. It shows people how to shape that process by choosing how to manage stress, diet, and physical activity.
Younger people interact with Meta-Agers because they are active and engaged enough to teach others about positive ageing.
Meta-Agers develop positive age beliefs and tend to show benefits in physical, cognitive, and mental health. The twelve-week Meta-Age program addresses thoughts about self-efficacy in ageing and encourages participants to be more physically active—a factor strongly associated with health across the lifespan. The intervention effectively changes people’s negative attitudes toward their ageing.
Reframing ageist mindsets
People must be willing to do this work in an increasingly ageing society.
People over-estimate the problems of later life and underestimate the resilience of later life. Meta-Age challenges their underlying assumptions about ageing and considers it a role transition.
Though misconceptions and negative beliefs about ageing are often deeply entrenched, they are not immutable. Meta-Age is a social movement to bring about a more ageless society.