Yale researchers studied how people's views toward aging affected their brains over time.

"God, I'm getting old." How many times have you heard that from someone who's obviously not an elderly person?

And even if they were, why does talk of aging, even if only jokingly, so often come with a tinge of antipathy?


GIF from "Freaky Friday."

The word "old" doesn't necessarily have to connote something negative, but it doesn't carry quite the same reverence when it's used to describe seniors as it does for, say, vintage cars.

C'mon. Your grandma's at least as cool as this old broken-down classic. Photo by California to Chicago/Flickr.

Research shows that harboring sour views toward aging could be bad for our brains.

Studies out of the Yale School of Public Health found that a negative outlook on growing old is a pretty strong predictor of Alzheimer's disease — a common form of dementia that impairs memories, thinking, and behavior progressively over time.

GIF from the National Institute of Aging.

The researchers looked at 158 participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, the longest running study of its kind in the country. The subjects were surveyed for their beliefs about aging in their 40s and, 25 years later, submitted themselves to a decade of annual brain scans.

According to the study, people who held more negative beliefs about aging showed a higher loss of volume in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that's important for memory formation.

In another study, they inspected the brain autopsies of people who were also surveyed for their opinions on aging. They found that the brains of those who saw aging as a negative thing were more likely to contain buildup of protein plaques and tangles common with Alzheimer's.

Brain gunk and shrinkage just from thinking a certain way? It all sounds pretty scary, but this is actually great news.

The research shows that protecting ourselves from Alzheimer's could be a little more within our control than previously believed. It all comes down to stereotypes — specifically, which ones we buy into when it comes to aging.

Photo by Chris Booth/Flickr.

Instead of associating old age with growing weak, slow, or stuck in the past, let's focus on the upsides: not having anything to prove, liberation from the 9-to-5, senior discounts, and even having the occasional "senior moment" as an unquestioned pass on life's trivialities and annoyances. Not to mention the wisdom we'll have to share and the wonderful memories we'll have accrued.

Plus, getting old doesn't have to mean you stop being happy.

In fact, it can be even easier to be happy in your senior years. According to a 2011 poll, while all Americans' happiness rises with the amount of time spent socializing, people 65 and older were more likely than younger Americans to stay in positive moods with less social time.

Photo by Marg/Flickr.

Beating negative stereotypes has to start early.

A 2012 study found that as children approach age 10, their worldviews are shaped more by their experiences than by what they're taught. From ages 3-6, they're absorbing the prejudices expressed all around them and beginning to apply those stereotypes in their own experiences.

Photo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr.

So if what you want are kids who grow up to be open-minded, accepting of people's differences, and, of course, poised for a lifetime of sharp thinking and good memories, then ditch your bad biases and light their way to positive thinking.

Family

I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

Policing women's bodies — and by consequence their clothes — is nothing new to women across the globe. But this mother's "legging problem" is particularly ridiculous.

What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

While sitting in mass at the University of Notre Dame, White was aghast by the spandex attire the young women in front of her were sporting.

Keep Reading Show less
More

Men are sharing examples of how they step up and step in when they see problematic behaviors in their peers, and people are here for it.

Twitter user "feminist next door" posed an inquiry to her followers, asking "good guys" to share times they saw misogyny or predatory behavior and did something about it. "What did you say," she asked. "What are your suggestions for the other other men in this situation?" She added a perfectly fitting hashtag: #NotCoolMan.

Not only did the good guys show up for the thread, but their stories show how men can interrupt situations when they see women being mistreated and help put a stop to it.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture