Thank you, Chip Conley, for introducing me to Becca Levy in the Wisdom Well newsletter this week.
Dr. Levy is a Yale professor and leading expert on the psychology of successful aging. Her upcoming book, Breaking The Aging Code, draws on her ground-breaking research to show how age beliefs can be improved so they benefit all aspects of the aging process, including the way genes operate and the extension of life expectancy by 7.5 years.
The often-surprising results of Levy’s science offers stunning revelations about the mind-body connection. She demonstrates that many health problems formerly considered to be entirely due to the aging process, such as memory loss, hearing decline, and cardiovascular events, are instead influenced by the negative age beliefs that dominate in the US and other ageist countries. It’s time for all of us to rethink aging.
Here are two of her studies showing how age beliefs shape all aspects of our lives, highlighted by NPR.
1 – POSITIVE VIEWS OF AGING INCREASES LIFESPAN BY ABOUT 7.5 YEARS
“In one study, Levy looked at people’s attitudes about aging when they were in late middle age and then followed them over time. Some of these people thought of older people as weak or dependent. Others thought of them as experienced or wise. What she found was that the people who had a positive view of aging lived about 7 and half years longer than the people who saw aging in a negative light.”
2 – POSITIVE VIEWS OF AGING INCREASED LIKELIHOOD TO RECOVER FROM MAJOR HEALTH SETBACKS
“One study showed that middle-aged people who had no cognitive impairment but did have negative views of aging were more likely to later develop the brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. And the more negative their views, the worse those brain changes were. On the other hand, another study found that people with positive views of older adults were much more likely to recover from major health setbacks.”