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The implications of living in an anti-ageing culture for the process of healthy ageing

Hendry, Neil (2010) The implications of living in an anti-ageing culture for the process of healthy ageing. Herriot-Watt university.

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Abstract

Projected population demographics predict that the number of people aged 65 years and over will outnumber those aged 16 years or under by 2033 (Government Statistics, 2009). With the knowledge that the population is increasingly ageing, it is vital that all can be done to minimise the potential strain posed on the National Health Service by acting against factors which may compromise the health of older adults. This essay presents an argument defining cultural ageism, apparent in aspects of the media, as a potential public health issue. In a commercial sense, advertisers are accused of perpetrating ageist attitudes by presenting the ageing process as an unnatural force to be contended with in order to maintain happiness in older adulthood. Similarly, an inaccurate image of incompetence and helplessness is portrayed of older adults by broadcasters. Empirical evidence and relevant stage models reviewed in this essay suggest that the ageist messages dissipated by the media can have serious, detrimental outcomes for the cognitive functioning and overall health of older adults. As such, the anti-ageing media can be considered a major public health issue; guilty of compromising the process of healthy ageing. This essay suggests interventions to tackle this problem and instead protect the health and quality of life of older people in today’s increasingly ageing society.

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