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 by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less