Head in the Sand?

head_in_sand_2There is something going on and it seems that not many are willing to acknowledge it. Some people are vehemently fighting it, which is futile. Others are trying to hide it. Still others refuse to admit it is happening at all. But the reality cannot be denied. No matter how deeply we stick our head in the sand, the truth is that we are all getting older.

I attended a seminar last week in which a panel presented findings from a recent study in the field of aging. The panelists described how many people are avoiding the topic of getting older, despite the signs all around them. They made the point that individuals and society as a whole are not ready to cope with aging.

During the Q&A, one of the participants described how groups she speaks to get really quiet when asked about their own aging experience. Why does this happen? Perhaps part of the issue is that people don’t want to hear more about the problems and difficulties of aging. They are surrounded by media messages and ads that paint a picture of decline and disease. That picture fills them with fear. But much of it is false information.

Ageist messages are those that perpetuate myths and stereotypes about what it means to be old. They spread rumors about diseases being inevitable and debilitating conditions being a natural part of aging. Such misinformation adds needless worry and drives people to stick their heads further into the sand.

But researchers are discovering exciting and encouraging news that expands what is possible as we get older. What a powerful difference there would be if the public knew what scientists have found. If we shift our perspective away from the misleading information about aging, we can take advantage of many newly discovered opportunities and possibilities. The more we know, the better we can empower ourselves to lengthen the span of our well-being.

What I took from the seminar is that the understanding aging experts have has not yet reached public awareness. It’s time to fill that gap. Armed with the truth, each of us can stop buying into the hype and drop the denial. It’s time to pull our head out of the sand and look around.

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