Understanding Seniors' Perceptions and Stereotypes of Aging
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Research suggests there is a connection between stereotypes, beliefs, and behavior in older individuals. To explore this link of stereotypes affecting beliefs and beliefs affecting behavior, we interviewed young (age 60 to 75) seniors in an effort to further examine these relationships. Semistructured qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 seniors. Questions focused on the broad themes of aging stereotypes and attitudes towards active living. Responses from the participants indicated the variety of opinions and beliefs seniors hold about the aging process. Intriguing results emerged on the topic of role models. Participants often had someone in their lives who represented what it means to age successfully. Generally, this was an individual older than themselves, active, vigorous, and illustrative of the high quality of life that is possible into a very late age. In addition, these individuals provide a direct contrast to the most negative stereotypes of aging.