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Positive ageing – from the political to the personal

Guy Robertson (Guy Robertson is based at Positive Ageing Associates, Bristol, UK.)

Working with Older People

ISSN: 1366-3666

Article publication date: 1 April 2012




The aim of this paper is to highlight the corrosive impact of ageism on the health and wellbeing of older people and to propose a practical methodology for addressing the psychological and emotional damage.


The paper examines published research from social gerontology on the impact of negative attitudes on longevity and health and then incorporates research from the realm of positive psychology to produce some practical personal development approaches based on a synthesis of the two.


Negative attitudes, largely fed by societal ageism, can significantly reduce longevity. Altering a person's “explanatory style” can produce significant health and wellbeing benefits. The latter is then proposed as a means of countering the former.

Research limitations/implications

Whilst each element is grounded in robust research evidence, there is as yet no dedicated research to show that the proposed “combined intervention” will have the intended impact.

Practical implications

A methodology is proposed for enabling individuals to examine their negative attitudes towards their own ageing and then use a variety of psychological techniques to ameliorate or replace them with more positive ones, which it is argued, will lead to greater health and wellbeing.


The paper synthesises research from two disparate disciplines (i.e. social gerontology, and psychology) to propose a way of addressing the negative impact of internalised ageist attitudes. The paper offers practical approaches to reverse the psychological and emotional damage caused by prevalent ageism in society. One such transformational programme is outlined.



Robertson, G. (2012), "Positive ageing – from the political to the personal", Working with Older People, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 149-153.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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