"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 by CDC on Unsplash

When schools closed early in the spring, the entire country was thrown for a loop. Parents had to figure out what to do with their kids. Teachers had to figure out how to teach students at home. Kids had to figure out how to navigate a totally new routine that was being created and altered in real time.

For many families, it was a big honking mess—one that many really don't want to repeat in the fall.

But at the same time, the U.S. hasn't gotten a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. As states have begun reopening—several of them too early, according to public health officials—COVID-19 cases have risen to the point where we now have more cases per day than we did during the height of the outbreak in the spring. And yet President Trump is making a huge push to get schools to reopen fully in the fall, even threatening to possibly remove funding if they don't.

It's worth pointing out that Denmark and Norway had 10 and 11 new cases yesterday. Sweden and Germany had around 300 each. The U.S. had 55,000. (And no, that's not because we're testing thousands of times more people than those countries are.)

The president of the country's largest teacher's union had something to say about Trump's push to reopen schools. Lily Eskelsen Garcia says that schools do need to reopen, but they need to be able to reopen safely—with measures that will help keep both students and teachers from spreading the virus and making the pandemic worse. (Trump has also criticized the CDCs "very tough & expensive guidelines" for reopening schools.)

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