In one of her studies, Levy found that Americans with more positive views on aging who were tracked over decades lived 7.5 years longer than those with negative views.
She attributed this to stress levels. Studies have shown that chronic stress not only can age your brain, but also can change a person on a cellular level and accelerate the aging process.
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Orb’s study also found that a culture’s attitude toward its older citizens can have a profound effect. It asked 150,000 people in 101 countries about their experiences and opinions regarding aging and the elderly.
Using a scale of 1 (very low respect) to 5 (very high respect), Orb found the overall average global attitude is 3.75. Averages in individual countries range from 2.75 to 4.8. Hungary and Uzbekistan tied for the top spot with 4.8.
Pakistan, with its longstanding tradition of respect for its elders, was among the countries that scored highest.
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"This attitude towards aging is a much healthier embrace of the aging process, rather than having all of your notions of well-being and attractiveness and self-worth being tied so closely to youth," said Faiza Mushtaq, an assistant professor of sociology at the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi, Pakistan.
The United States fell in the bottom 10 countries, tied with Venezuela as having the eighth worst attitude toward its aging populace.
Levy stresses that people can ignore cultural stereotypes and decide for themselves how they want to approach old age. Those who watch less TV, participate less in social media and have more resistant personalities are more likely to hold more positive views of aging, Levy said.