Why is age associated with communication

Images of old age: How we imagine old age

Images of old age are often shaped by prejudices and simplified ideas. Negative images of old age influence our behavior when dealing with old people. Anyone who thinks that old age is primarily associated with frailty, illness, loneliness and mental decline will more likely see their deficits in everyday personal contact with old people.

Such prejudices make it more difficult for old people to use their existing potential and to lead a responsible, independent life. If older people adapt to these prejudices themselves, they are more likely to occur (“self-fulfilling prophecy”).

For example, when caregivers only see a negative image of age in people in need of care: This attitude unconsciously supports dependency or insufficient attention to the need for independence of the elderly.

Prejudices and negative images of old age stand in the way of healthy aging. They can lead to discrimination and marginalization of the elderly. Negative images of old age can also help establish practices in institutions that - often without intent - support unjustified opinions and unequal treatment.

On the other hand, scientific studies show the advantages of a positive image of old age. Older people with a positive view of old age and a positive self-image have more confidence in themselves, remain more physically active or take part in social activities more often than people with a negative self-image. A positive image of old age is also associated with a higher life expectancy.

In order to maintain and promote health, independence and dignity in old age, an individual view of the needs, interests and abilities of a person as well as the life situation is necessary. It is important to recognize that the elderly are not a homogeneous group, but that individual differences become more important with increasing age.