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.

Photo: Canva

We're nearly a year into the pandemic, and what a year it has been. We've gone through the struggles of shutdowns, the trauma of mass death, the seemingly fleeting "We're all in this together" phase, the mind-boggling denial and deluge of misinformation, the constantly frustrating uncertainty, and the ongoing question of when we're going to get to resume some sense of normalcy.

It's been a lot. It's been emotionally and mentally exhausting. And at this point, many of us have hit a wall of pandemic fatigue that's hard to describe. We're just done with all of it, but we know we still have to keep going.

Poet Donna Ashworth has put this "done" feeling into words that are resonating with so many of us. While it seems like we should want to talk to people we love more than ever right now, we've sort of lost the will to socialize pandemically. We're tired of Zoom calls. Getting together masked and socially distanced is doable—we've been doing it—but it sucks. In the wintry north (and recently south) the weather is too crappy to get together outside. So many of us have just gone quiet.

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While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

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via Walt Disney Television / Flickr and jilhervas / Flickr

There comes a moment in everyone's social media life when they get stressed because they've been followed by an authority figure. When your boss, mother, or priest starts following you, social media immediately becomes a lot less fun.

When that happens, it's time to stop posting photos of yourself partying it up with an adult beverage. You gotta hold back on some of your saltier takes, and you have to start minding your language. Also, you have to be very careful about the posts you're tagged in.

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