How we think about getting older can drastically affect our emotional and physical health. Find out why.
Ageism Quiz - 2
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The term "ageism" was first used by French historian Alex de Tocqueville in his 1830s book, Democracy in America.
Question 1 Explanation:
In 1968, gerontologist Robert N. Butler, MD, was the first to coin the term "ageism." He compared it to racism and sexism and defined it as the systematic stereotyping of older people and discrimination against them just because of their chronological age. Raised by his grandparents, Butler was shocked when he reached medical school to discover that many of his teachers were contemptuous of elders. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his book about age discrimination, Why Survive: Old Age in America. In a 2004 briefing paper, Butler wrote of ageism that “Everyone has a vested interest in eradicating this prejudice. We all aspire to live to be old, and consequently we all must work to create a society where old age is respected, if not honored, and where persons who have reached old age are not marginalized.”
Depression in later life often goes untreated.
Question 2 Explanation:
Though researchers report that individuals over 65 are somewhat less likely to be seriously depressed than younger people, there’s a myth that depression is so common in later life that it’s to be expected. Even doctors sometimes dismiss a person’s deep dejection as merely a result of aging rather than a problem that needs treatment. Depression is usually quite treatable at any age. Sometimes it’s just a side effect of a medication.
TV commercials that feature youthful-looking, gray-haired actors contradict negative stereotypes of older people.
Question 3 Explanation:
In the world of television advertising, older adults seem heavily medicated. They’re shown benefiting from over-the-counter and prescription drugs for constipation, heartburn, upset stomach, urinary incontinence, sleeplessness, erectile dysfunction, or singing the praises of adhesives for false teeth. Medications for pain, high cholesterol, hypertension, arthritis, osteoporosis and depression are among the top commercials on-air year after year. All of this reinforces the notion that our later years will be dominated by chronic illnesses, disabilities and discomforts. Rarely do we see actors and actresses who are aging well in commercials for cars, deodorants or dog food, although they sometimes are featured in ads for brokerage firms and financial products.
Most people over 65 are active and in good health.
Question 4 Explanation:
The belief that the majority of individuals who have passed their 65th birthdays are sick or disabled may be the most common prejudice against them, according to gerontologist Erdman B. Palmore, PhD. About half of all Americans are convinced that poor health is a serious problem for anyone over 65. In surveys, many say they believe a sizeable percentage of those individuals live in institutions such as nursing homes. Yet researchers report that almost 9 out of 10 Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have no disability at all, nor do nearly three-quarters of those between 75 and 84. Even among adults in their upper 80s and 90s, 40 percent function just fine on their own.
People experience “senior moments” beginning in midlife.
Question 5 Explanation:
A name escapes you, or you stand in the middle of the kitchen, temporarily unable to remember what you came to get: this kind of brief memory lapse can happen to adults at any age, but if you’re over 50, you may joke that you’re growing old, or someone may kid you about having a “senior moment.” The assumption is that memory deserts you in later life. Although some aspects of it do decline with age, others stay the same or even get stronger. You are most likely to have a problem remembering information presented in a fast-paced, disorganized way or trouble retrieving words from the tip of your tongue. These slight difficulties rarely impact daily life. Your recollections of the past are unlikely to fade, and your store of knowledge—along with your skills and language comprehension—may actually improve.
Businesses that sell products and services designed to slow or reverse aging are pioneers in combating ageism.
Question 6 Explanation:
The antiaging industry in the United States takes in billions of dollars every year by promising to slow or reverse aging with vitamin supplements, hormones and antioxidants. Such claims actually promote ageism because they present normal aging as a disease that younger people should try to avoid. Many current antiaging products aren’t regulated by the FDA and haven’t been adequately tested for safety or effectiveness, according to a 2002 panel of experts convened by the nonprofit International Longevity Center-USA and several cosponsors.
How old someone feels depends entirely on his or her health.
Question 7 Explanation:
Health is one factor but our society’s attitude toward growing older is another. Margaret Morganroth Gullette, author of Aged by Culture (2004), suggests that “we are aged more by culture than by chromosomes.” Gullette believes that social forces are making us old prematurely and far faster than our own genes. If you have been influenced by negative stereotypes and expect a relentless physical and mental decline once you’re in midlife, that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, undermining your confidence and your health, and even shortening your life span.
Believing in ageist stereotypes can increase your risk of heart disease.
Question 8 Explanation:
A 2009 study demonstrated this by looking at data on nearly 400 individuals who had been tracked for 38 years by the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. To measure their attitudes toward older adults, researchers had asked whether they agreed with statements such as, “Most old people are set in their ways and unable to change.” Those who made ageist assumptions were significantly more likely to develop congestive heart failure or to have strokes or heart attacks than those with more positive opinions. Why should that be? Other studies suggest that if you dread your own old age because of cultural stereotypes, you’re less inclined to take care of yourself when you’re younger.
The longer people live, the more they differ from one another.
Question 9 Explanation:
With the passing years, we may all grow farsighted and our hair may turn gray, but in most other ways, the older we are, the more different we are from our peers. We’re the products of the lives we have led. In later life, some of us are poor; some live comfortably; few are wealthy. Some need a cane or a walker to get around, but others still compete as athletes. Mental abilities also diverge with age, and mental attitude makes a huge difference. There are older adults who have lost interest in life, and there are many others enthusiastically pursuing their passions. Researchers are greatly interested in studying such differences to help all of us age well.
Americans in their 60s say that their sex lives are as good as they ever were.
Question 10 Explanation:
A common ageist stereotype holds that it’s normal to lose interest in sex as you age. But as long ago as 1981, when researchers surveyed hundreds of older people, three out of four said making love after 60 was at least as satisfying as it was at younger ages. More recently, a 2009 Pew Research Center study of several thousand adults of all ages found that more than one-third of those under 65 assumed that they themselves would give up sex once they were in their later years. Yet in the same study, the vast majority of respondents 65 and over told researchers that they were still sexually active.
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