A study published on June 2 in the British Journal of Social Psychology reveals that being friends with older people reduces ageism in younger people. According to researchers from the University of Kent, even being aware of a friend who has older adult friends can improve a young person’s attitude toward older adults.
The university’s team found that being friends with an older adult reduced the anxieties a young person feels when interacting with an older person. Consequently, this positive perception increased the acceptability and prevalence of friendships between young adults and older adults.
Researchers Lisbeth Drury and Dominic Abrams, both psychologists at the Kent School of Psychology, studied ageism on young adults and asked them their frequency of interacting with older adults. The researchers inquired whether this interaction was considered to have a positive impact on the part of the younger person.
The researchers also asked if any of the young adults has a friend who is friends with older adults. The findings reveal that those young adults who have good contact with older adults were less ageist.
Even friendships with older adults can provide an indirect positive effect to other young adults. The findings add to previous research that explored the impact of attitudes toward aging.
Another study led by researchers from the Yale School of Public Health claimed that people who have negative attitudes toward aging are at an increased risk of suffering from brain impairment related to Alzheimer’s disease. This most likely stems from the stress brought about the negative beliefs of aging, which can cause pathological brain changes.
The previous findings imply that fighting negative views about aging could be a possible way to stop the increasing rate of Alzheimer’s disease. The neurodegenerative disorder affects more than five million people in the US alone. The study was published last Dec 7 in the journal Psychology and Aging.