Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychologist, conducted a radical experiment in 1979 – the results of which were never published. Last fall, this study was featured in the New York Times. The study examined how aging’s effects could be altered or even erased by an intervention. Nursing homes are not a stimulating environment. When removed from those surroundings and placed into an area that reminds them of their youth, the mind changes. Langer created a world of 1959, as she writes in her 2009 book “Counterclockwise”, instructing elderly men to behave as if it were really 1959. They talked about historical events as if current news, and no one carried their bags or helped them up stairs. After a week in this time warp environment, they showed improvements in strength, posture, memory, hearing, and vision – more significant changes than those of the control group. Your own expectations and those of others are powerful, the power of the mind over the body. Many negative effects of aging may be environmentally determined and can be reversed by changing the environment. Langer plans to test her theories in a new study with cancer patients, who will live as if it were 2003 (pre-illness). Some may be skeptical of the aging experiment, but evidence shows the benefits of allowing people their independence and social interaction as they get older.
Friedman, Lauren F. “A radical experiment tried to make old people young again — and the results were astonishing.” Science. Business Insider, 6 Apr 2015. Web. 20 Apr 2015.