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Friday, June 15, 2012

Looking to the Future

Being Positive about Self and Aging[i]

         “Once individuals become older, they may lack the defenses of other groups to ward off the impact of negative stereotypes on self-perceptions.” Further “The depth and breadth of self-stereotypes of aging may be explained by their focus on cognitive decline which conveys a sense of the ultimate outcome: death.”  Further, “.the knowledge of  the inevitability of death is the underlying sense from which all other fears are ultimately derived.”  Next week I have an appointment with a neurologist  to discuss my declining memory function.  I don’t know whether this decline is “normal” or a path to serious factors including Alzheimer’s. 
         Recently my younger brother Reynolds died from a heart attack. It has caused me to have additional stress, which is a major factor in brain memory decline.
         The researcher go on to explain that “The following study examines for the first time whether positive self-perceptions about one’s aging influence survival….”
         Their tool was the Attitudes Towards Own Aging subscale, which contains the following items:
1.    Things keep getting worse as I get older.
2.    I have as much pep as I did last year.”
3.    As you get older you are less useful.
4.    I am as happy now as when I was younger,
5.    As I get older things are (better, worse, or the same) as I thought they would be.

         What I’m doing about the memory process is 1. Taking a daily supplement entitled Unforgettables and I munch on Coconut Oil each day. But more than that I have learned that the best way to remember something is to stop trying to remember.  I find that let go of the pressure; in several second the word I was looking for “pops” up.  It’s funny that while I have always had trouble remembering people’s names my forgetfulness has expanded and I can’t take anything for granted.
         Another study I want to include [ii] examines the fear of death in dying in relationship to Aging. Agreeing with much of the other material on the subject the Dr. Roth says; “First of all this country is oriented toward youthfulness.  Aged people are generally not held in high regard.”    Further he goes on to say that “The major assault on the mental health  of older people comes from diminished self-esteem.  Further. “ The person who feels that his self-esteem is irretrievably shattered does not want to live and soon dies. It must be emphasized that self-esteem is the psychologic  equivalent of self-preservation in the physical sphere.” 
         “There are of course, older people who face death without trepidation.  They are generally kindly, loving, people who live life fully to the last possible moment. They want to continue learning. When the time comes, the feel ready for the final step of life, which is death.” Finally “Does it all boil down to the idea that life is so interesting?”
           Well I used to watch a TV show called The Highlander and the primary song by the song group Queen was “Who wants to live forever.  I’d like to take a shot at living ten thousand years into the future ( maybe I’m being over optimistic regarding global warming)
         Finally the author tells us that “Just as we do not know the nature of death, we do not know the purpose of life, but we must live as though we do in order to face death with a measure of fortitude.”

[i] [i] B.R. Levy, M.D.Slade, S.R. Kunkel & S.V. Kasl (200).  Longevity Increased by Positive Self-Perceptions of Aging , Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Vol 83, No.2,261-270.  DOI 10.1037//0022-3514.83.2.261

[ii] N. Roth (1978) Fear of Death in the Aging, American Journal of Psychotherapy  Vol 32, 4, pages 552-559

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