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A special message for all my younguns friends out there: Beware of contempt about growing old. It may be harmful to your health later on.

As reported by Kay Lazar in the Boston Globe, what you think about aging while you are still young can impact how it happens to you when it does:

When you think about aging, what words and images come to mind? Wrinkled, forgetful, maybe feeble?

You might want to rethink those, and try spry, wise, and distinguished, because our negative perceptions of our elders may have adverse effects on our own long-term health, according to a growing body of research.

Scientists are increasingly linking negative stereotypes about older adults to a number of health problems, from memory impairments to increased risk of heart disease and even a shortened life span. With elders often portrayed as the dentures, wrinkle cream, and incontinence segment of our youth-obsessed society, negative messages about aging can be pernicious and long-lasting, specialists say.

So I have to ask: Is there a way to retrofit these more positive attitudes? I too was once a 20 year old who was so breezily dismissive of older people, contemptuous and ignorant of what it means . So as a preventative, repeat after me: Spry! Wise! Distinguished! Again…