HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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As you age, you should strive to be open to learning about the issue of ageism and solutions and serve as a mentor and activist who may benefit from problem-based education regarding ageism. Keep up to date on SMART technologies and use the Web to your advantage to track issues affecting you and others world-wide.


The health of older people is unfortunately not keeping up with their increasing longevity. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes great diversity in health and functioning in older individuals and marked health inequities among the elderly. In response to a call from member states, WHO is leading and working with other stakeholders on a Global Campaign to Combat Ageism that aims to build a world for all ages by changing the way we think, feel and act towards aging. More information can be found on WHO’s Web site (www.who.int/ageing/ageism/campaign/ en/).


Negative attitudes and stereotypes about older adults as frail, out of touch, burdensome or dependent are ubiquitous. WHO did an analysis recently using world values survey data of 83,034 adults from 57 countries. It found a pattern of low respect for older adults. Sixty percent of participants reported older adults are not well respected. Stereotyping and discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age continues in the 21st century. Unlike other forms of discrimination, ageism seems to be socially acceptable and largely undetected and unchallenged in many communities both here in the States and around the world.


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DEALING WITH AGEISM

To age more effectively, combatting ageism and associated stereotyping means creating an ecology for successful aging. According to the Communication Ecology Model of Successful Aging (Fowler et al., 2015), dealing with the aging process is a matter of proactive coping. As they age, people should create the environments in which they can age most successfully. Society must create an ecology that promotes healthy aging through education and empowerment.


Changing the course of ageism requires the input of proactive individuals who are willing to work with scientists and healthcare professionals to promote needed research to address ageism and discrimination in society. In addition, this work entails engaging the legal community and the state and federal levels of government to frame legislation to improve quality of life and assure victims of aging discrimination receive justice. Professional organizations such as AARP provide legislative initiatives and educational strategies for countering age discrimination. Many European countries are well ahead of the United States in designing strategies and values for an aging population. In some countries, the aging population can count on pensions as well as health and social care services, while in other countries there is little or no support for this group of human beings.

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut and Professor Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Department of Gerontology, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky.

more articles by dr thomas W. Miller

Today, most people can expect to live well into their 60s and beyond. By 2050, the world’s population aged 60 years and older is expected to double to nearly 2 billion people, 80 percent of whom will live in low-and middle-income countries.


Ageism is a perception of how older human beings are treated and respected in society. As with other social issues, ageism requires an awareness of one’s own perceptions and behaviors. Ageism exists in a variety of life’s arenas, including the world of work at many levels; in public places and spaces; and even in grocery stores, shops and health care settings. Ageism can be found in rules, regulations, ethical and moral behavior and cultural attitudes and values. The aging process is embedded in social, political, psychological, economic and biochemical processes and is complicated by both physical and mental conditions.


The Alliance for Aging Research (2019) has warned that unless ageist attitudes are recognized and addressed, aging Americans will continue to face discrimination. The Alliance offers some recommendations to address this problem within the healthcare community, including more training and education for healthcare professionals and the larger community about geriatrics. They also urge greater inclusion of older Americans in clinical trials, as well as greater utilization of appropriate screenings and preventative measures for them.