WASHINGTON -- Television ads depicting aging baby boomers as "greedy geezers" and news stories calling older audiences "a bad omen for advertising revenues" pose serious risks for the elderly and may even shorten life span, a panel of experts on aging testified Wednesday.
The panelists, appearing before the Senate Special Committee on Aging, blasted media and marketing executives for bombarding audiences with what they said are negative images of aging.
Most people internalize such images without realizing how damaging they can be on an older person's finances, relationships and physical and mental health, they said.
"Extolling youthfulness while demeaning the old helps to generate images that, as our research suggests, may have devastating consequences," Dr. Becca Levy, an epidemiologist at Yale University, told committee chairman Sen. John Breaux, D-La., and other senators at the hearing.
Levy presented the findings of a 20-yearlong study published last month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that found that older individuals with positive perceptions of aging lived 7.5 years longer than those exposed to negative images. Researchers interviewed 660 people over the course of the study, tracking longevity and how participants' self-images were affected as they grew older.
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