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Turning 70 and a Few Thoughts About Ageism

By Becki Cohn-Vargas April 15, 2023 Lifestyle

My house is on a hillside near the entrance to Wildcat Canyon Park, a beautiful regional park that stretches for miles. I love walking to the park and climbing what we call the ridges. On a clear day, you can reach what you think is the top, slightly out of breath, and turn around to view the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.

Then you turn ahead and realize you aren’t at the top, you’re facing yet another ridge that continues up, and you can see Mount Diablo in one direction and Mount Tamalpais in the other. That experience is what happens when we age.

In September 2022, I turned 70. Wow, it feels just like climbing up those ridges. I’ve been writing blogs for Sixty and Me since my mid-60. Recently, I heard from a reader, Jon Taber, a young man who’d read my blog Life After 60 May Just Be the Most Productive – It’s All About Perfect Timing. He requested an interview about ageism for his podcast, Audit Fun for people in the audit profession.

I’d been busy writing a book and hadn’t written blogs for a while. After researching ageism for the podcast, I decided it was vital information to share with Sixty and Me.

4 Things to Know About Ageism

Societal Stereotypes

Our society that worships youth promotes many misconceptions, stereotypes, and myths about aging. For example, seniors are often stereotyped as slow, weak, feeble, frail, and out of touch with the times, especially with technology. But, of course, you aren’t because you are reading this online!

A Global Challenge

A World Health Organization article entitled Ageism is a Global Challenge reports, “Every second person in the world is believed to hold ageist attitudes – leading to poorer physical and mental health and reduced quality of life for older persons, costing societies billions of dollars each year, according to a new United Nations report on ageism.”

Older Workers

Many of you continue to work part-time during your 60s. Some of my friends are working in their 70s and even their 80s. We don’t need research to remind us that older workers are often highly skilled and experienced.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers between 55-64 stay in their jobs more than three times more than those between 25-34. They often have a strong work ethic, arrive at work earlier, and are less likely to miss work.

Ageism Hurts Our Health

Whether we are working or not, ageism has been found to hurt our health. For example, an estimated 6.3 million cases of depression globally are estimated to be attributable to ageism. While it’s true that our memory is impacted as we age, we forget more when we worry about it.

But the worst part happens when we believe and internalize negative attitudes about aging. Ageism impacts our health in three different ways:

  • Psychological: negative age stereotypes can exacerbate stress and depression.
  • Behavioral: negative self-perceptions of aging predict worse health behavior, such as noncompliance with prescribed medications.
  • Physiological: negative age stereotypes predict detrimental brain changes decades later, including the accumulation of plaques and tangles and a reduction in the size of the hippocampus.

What Can We Do About Ageism in Our Lives?

Neuroscientists are studying how stereotype threat, which is the fear of confirming a negative stereotype, harms seniors’ performance. In lab studies, researchers found that stereotypes can lead to slower walking and weaker grip strength for older adults.

Gerontology researcher Sarah Barber states, “Your attitude about aging is highly predictive of your aging outcomes,” she said. “Those who have positive attitudes about aging live longer, have a better memory function, and recover more easily from illnesses.”

Acting Against Ageism

So what can we do? We can work to counteract myths and misconceptions about aging and support policies and laws that address ageism. We can also work on our attitudes, increase confidence, enhance empathy, and engage in intergenerational activities. Ultimately, all these things will improve our health and the quality of our lives.

Reaching 70 has been an important milestone for me. I hope to follow this advice as I climb the ridges that lie ahead. You can listen to my recent interview here:

Audit Fun: Podcast on Ageism


If you are working, here are a couple of great resources.

  1. National Council of Aging Tips – Job Skills CheckUp, to develop a plan to find job openings, build a professional network, prepare for job interviews, and more.
  2. Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) helps low-income older adults find work. It matches eligible applicants (age 55+) with paid, part-time training assignments for nonprofit organizations.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you feel ageism in your life, or is this a concept you haven’t personally felt? How has ageism impacted you? Is ageism getting worse for you the older you get? What do you do to counteract the ageist stereotype?

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I retired at 58 after 21 years of teaching high school students, never planning to enter a classroom again. Fast-forward four years and I became a volunteer reading to first, and now, second graders, at an inner city school, just like the high school I taught in. Nine years later and I’m still doing that and am active in my church and community. I am thrilled to be healthy and able to keep doing these things and finding pleasure in my life.


Ageism is ageism to me. Good days and bad days. I try not to think about it. Ageism is just a number. I feel those younger are just jealous because we keep on going. I try to ignore comments, remember those younger have to get to where we are eventually. I think they are scared to get there . Just my mumbled thoughts.


Please take a listen to my podcast – Growing Older With Gusto. It touched on topics in your blog. Highlighting older people growing older in a positive & productive way.

Anne Dent

My 71 year old partner and I 64 are currently back packing through Malaysia. We are staying in a tree house on a durian farm, where our wonderful hosts, passionate about sustainable farming, impressed by our tales are encouraging us to start a blog which we are contemplating “wise wanderlust”
Whist forward booking some accommodation I have been highly amused by some of the benevolent ageism of the young reviewers on air B and B warning people over 55 that the property is not suitable because it is on the third floor or there is a loft ladder! My partner and I are greatly amused as we climb our drawbridge ladder to sleep in in our gorgeous tree house with the splendour of nature all around us and giggle to our selves we are more than 55 we must be too old to do this!!

Becki Cohn-Vargas

Have a wonderful trip! I love it that you backpack.

The Author

Becki Cohn-Vargas, Ed.D, has been blogging regularly for Sixty and Me since 2015. She is a retired educator and independent consultant. She's the co-author of three books on identity safe schools where students of all backgrounds flourish. Becki and her husband live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have three adult children and one grandchild. You can connect with her at the links below.

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