You have probably heard the common expression: "you are what you eat", which emphasizes the important connection between nutrition and health. It may surprise you to find out that your attitude about aging may have as much of an impact on your health later in life as your choice of food affects your general health. More than 400 studies have demonstrated a connection between attitudes about aging and health outcomes. One such study, the Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement, followed 660 individuals age 50 and older to determine the impact of their attitudes about aging on health outcomes. You may be surprised to discover that this study determined that those with positive self-perceptions of aging lived 6.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions regarding the aging process.
We live in a culture that idolizes youth and beauty and tends to overlook the significant contributions made by people in the later decades of life. The truth of the matter is that the idea that success favors the young is more of a myth than reality. We have all heard about how Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg both built multi-million dollar companies in their teens; but according to research conducted by MIT professor Pierre Azoulay analyzing 2.7 million people who founded companies between 2007 and 2014,; business founders age 50 were twice as likely to be a successful as those aged 30.
There are countless examples of people who have made significant contributions to society after age 60; I will mention a few of them here for your consideration. Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the popular book series "Little House in the Big Woods" did not publish her first book until she was 64. At age 65, Colonel Harland Sanders began Kentucky Fried Chicken using his $105.0 monthly Social Security Check. Mother Theresa won the Noble Peace Prize for her work with the poor at age 69. Famous Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, was 70 when he signed the Declaration of Independence and Statesman; Nelson Mandela was nearly 75 when he became the President of South Africa.
Whatever your age, I hope that reading this article will challenge some of the pre-conceived notions you may have held regarding the relation between age and productivity and success. Having a healthy realization of the incredible contributions made by individuals during their later years of life will help us all benefit from the collective wisdom, knowledge and experience for those who have learned valuable life lessons through their experiences. I am currently in my 60's and I am still learning new lessons each day, which enable me to better serve our patients and community. No matter your age, there is still more to learn and even more to share and enjoy with others along the journey.