A positive attitude can reduce healthcare costs with elderly

I was just reading this NY Times article about how elderly people’s health dramatically differs based on what stereotypes about the elderly are pervasive. If there are negative stereotypes, elderly folks will have lower cognitive function and physical health, and they will be less likely to seek preventative care. However, if positive stereotypes are pervasive, the elderly will be more sharp and bounce back more easily from disability.

When stereotypes are negative — when seniors are convinced becoming old means becoming useless, helpless or devalued — they are less likely to seek preventive medical care and die earlier, and more likely to suffer memory loss and poor physical functioning, a growing body of research shows.

When stereotypes are positive — when older adults view age as a time of wisdom, self-realization and satisfaction — results point in the other direction, toward a higher level of functioning. The latest report, in The Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that seniors with this positive bias are 44 percent more likely to fully recover from a bout of disability.

For people who care about and interact with older people, the message is clear: your attitude counts because it can activate or potentially modify these deeply held age stereotypes.

What I find interesting about this is that having pure intention for people also applies to people’s health. By "putting a ten" over our elderly (seeing the best in someone), they are more healthy, smart, and able to continue contributing to society. Yet another reason Jump's value of Pure Intention should be practiced in all areas of our lives, not just at work.

By Alison Mora

Photo credit, Fred R. Conrad, The New York Times