alexa Death by Denigration: Psychological, Physiological and Mortality Effects of Ageism
ISSN: 2167-7182

Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research
Open Access

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Review Article

Death by Denigration: Psychological, Physiological and Mortality Effects of Ageism

Robinson BL*
South London and Maudsley, NHS Foundation Trust, UK
Corresponding Author : Robinson BL
South London and Maudsley
NHS Foundation Trust, UK
Tel: +447779728926
E-mail: [email protected]
Received November 28, 2014; Accepted December 22, 2014; Published December 24, 2014
Citation: Robinson BL (2014) Death by Denigration: Psychological, Physiological and Mortality Effects of Ageism. J Gerontol Geriatr Res 3:192. doi:10.4172/2167-7182.1000192
Copyright: © 2014 Robinson BL. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
 

Abstract

Most people have the luxury of growing up as members of the majority in society, thus avoiding the stereotype and prejudice inevitably attendant on being part of a minority group. Such a happy lot, however, is merely transitory, for all of us who reach old age-ironically, a vast majority-will join a people for whom that flavour of prejudice and stereotype known as ageism is a daily occurrence. Ageism was first described as "another form of bigotry" (Butler 1969), and more recently defined as creating a situation whereby "the elderly in our society find themselves viewed in a predominantly negative fashion, victims of a pervasive form of discrimination and disparagement". The negative effects of such prejudice on how the elderly are treated by society and on their own self-esteem are only too wellknown, and it is not the purpose of this discussion to restate them once again. Rather, the focus of this essay is on interesting new research which suggests that ageism may go further than the social or psychological, and have serious negative physical effects, including decline in cognitive function (Levy, 1996) and altered autonomic reactivity. Such claims are examined below, beginning with an analysis of the nature of stereotypes of the elderly and then considering how these impact on old people's views of themselves. The discussion then assesses the validity of the proposed links between such views and both cognitive function and cardiovascular response to stress. This thread of research culminates in a recent paper which proposes a link between how the middle aged and elderly view themselves in terms of aging, and mortality up to twenty years later (Levy et al., 2002).

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