In a rare incidence of poetic justice, it turns out that young people who hold nasty stereotypes about old people are more likely to suffer certain serious health complications as they themselves approach geezerdom.
Medical News reports on a study conducted by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health, who “discovered that there was a striking link between ageism early in life and poor heart health later on.”
That is, those who viewed old age in negative terms were much more likely to experience some kind of cardiovascular disorder over the next four decades. The scientists also looked at a subset of volunteers who didn’t have any heart problems until after they were 60 – at least 21 years later – and found that these people were likely to have been negative about aging from early on. The episodes of heart disease could not be explained by smoking, depression, cholesterol, family history, or any of a myriad other possible risk factors.
What this suggests, the authors write, is that people are internalizing stereotypes of old age when they are still quite young – with far reaching consequences. This is the first scientific look at people maturing into the very people they have been unkindly caricaturing. It could be taken as a cautionary tale for those who think they’ll never grow old.