“The dictionary defines ageism as the ‘tendency to regard older persons as debilitated, unworthy of attention, or unsuitable for employment.’ But research indicates that ageism may not just be ill-informed or hurtful. It may also be a matter of life and death.
“Not that it’s literally killing people. Researcher Becca Levy, a professor of epidemiology and psychology at the Yale School of Public Health, says it depends on how much a given individual takes those negative ideas to heart.
“In one study, Levy looked at people’s attitudes about aging when they were in late middle age and then followed them over time. Some of these people thought of older people as weak or dependent. Others thought of them as experienced or wise. What she found was that the people who had a positive view of aging lived about 7 and half years longer than the people who saw aging in a negative light.
“Now that doesn’t mean that if you think positive thoughts about aging, it’s OK to sit on the couch in front of the TV and eat a pound of bacon.”