Culture, attitudes and environments affect aging


Human aging is the result of ongoing interplay between biological, behavioral and contextual influences. Contextual influences can be distinguished in beliefs and attitudes that are held by a given community or society. Traditional aspects of culture that influence aging environments are such things as the economic base, income distribution, family structure, and migration.  Contextual influences are also linked with the built environment and infrastructures that aging people encounter. For example, how do environmental factors such as stress or socio-economic status leave a mark on our genome or alter our aging trajectory.  Or how do environmental biases, such as age stereotypes or inaccessible surroundings, play out upon our health and well-being as we grow older?

The effect of different cultural aspects on aging trajectories is one of the three focal points for Columbia Aging Center researchers.

In the face of increased life expectancy, a key question facing governments, economists, industry, and individual families is how do we build a society - the social and build environment we live in - that longer lives as an asset and that works to keep people as engaged and healthy as possible for as long as possible.