ADM 1300 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Ageism
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A Life Half Full: Aging With Optimism
(NewsUSA) – Sponsored News – As Americans age, one element seems to be key for their
mental and physical health: optimism. That’s the finding suggested by a new Humana survey,
which asked Americans age 60 and over how they perceive the importance of various
Although the survey uncovered many perspectives, the findings about optimism suggest a
possible link between a “glass half full” mentality and mental and physical health:
* Older Americans who rated themselves as very optimistic about aging tended to be the
most active physically, socially and in their communities.
* They also reported a much lower number of physically unhealthy days per month on
average: 2.84 for the most optimistic, compared to 12.55 physically unhealthy days for the
* The most optimistic also felt on average 12 years younger than their actual age (those who
are least optimistic felt on average 7 years older than their actual age).
The survey also asked respondents to rate how they feel about the depiction of people age 60
and over in pop culture: in film, television, commercials and so on. Overwhelmingly, the
respondents perceived these media portrayals of their own demographic as inaccurate, rating
the accuracy level as, on average, 5 or less on a 10-point scale. Those aging Americans who do
feel that media accurately portrays them think about aging more than the average and have a
higher level of fear about aging than their peers.
Humana also recently partnered with The University of Southern California (USC) to take a
first-ever look into society’s views of aging in America through the lens of film. The USC
studyreveals that characters aged 60 and over are underrepresented in film, and that those
characters who do appear face demeaning or ageist references. Key findings from the study
* Just 11 percent of characters evaluated were aged 60 and over; U.S. Census data shows that
18.5 percent of the population is aged 60 and over.
* Out of 57 films that featured a leading or supporting senior character, 30 featured ageist
comments — that’s more than half of the films. Quotes included characters being called “a
relic,” “a frail old woman” and “a senile old man.”
* Only 29.1 percent of on-screen characters engaged with technology, whereas 84 percent of
aging Americans report that they use the internet weekly.
Taken together, these findings feed into growing evidence that suggest that ageism is a social
determinant of health and may negatively impact health outcomes for aging Americans.
Societal views and negative media portrayals can cause aging Americans to feel invisible.
These negative perceptions may dampen optimistic outlooks and impact physical and
Humana wants to help aging Americans defy stereotypes, age with optimism and take steps
to achieve their best health. To learn more about Humana’s commitment to healthy aging,
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