ULiège, Factory of Possibilities

Stéphane Adam: another look at aging

Our elders can be actors to manage the transition. In an ageist society where seniors are not valued very much, Stéphane Adam, professor of the psychology of aging, takes every opportunity to spread a message that is rarely heard, yet is full of hope and optimism.

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The words we often use to describe age are not very inspiring. According to Stéphane Adam, director of theUnité de Psychologie de la Sénescence at the University of Liège, this is not a fatality. From the vineyard of the Wines of Liege, the psychologist tries to describe another reality.

" When we talk about wine, age is not perceived as a problem, he smiles. On the contrary, it gets better with time. In the same way, aging can be synonymous with experience and sharing. I work a lot on trying to change the way people look at aging in society

For it is indeed a look above all. " Only 11% of people over 65 suffer from depression; that's half as many as young people aged 18-25! Many studies show that despite grief and loss, older people are happier than younger people by focusing on the positive aspects of their lives. There are lessons to be learned there. "

Creating synergies

Stéphane Adam attributes this view of aging primarily to an effect of our productivist societies. in a world where value is created through work, a person who does not have a job is considered a burden," he summarizes. And that's where the media and politicians have a role to play. Who can cite the economic benefits of the voluntary activity of people over 55? In Belgium, it represents 2.3 billion euros per year! I sometimes wish I had a magic wand to make the media world communicate differently, and more objectively ".

Senior citizens are also held responsible by the new generation for global warming. of course, the focus is on those who will suffer the consequences," notes Stéphane Adam. However, this does not mean that the older generation is not interested in the issue or that they have wished for this situation as individuals. Crises tend to create distance between generations Instead, the researcher says, "we should find ways to create synergies, because the best way to manage this transition would be to bring the generations together. Older people are full of resources, if only in the relationship with nature, which tends to be lost. "

Changing the way we look at things

The researcher believes that his contribution lies in this attempt to objectify a reality that he sees on a daily basis. " If I'm in a waiting room, I can't help but notice the difference between the way health professionals address me and my older neighbor. Like a comedian who lets his ears hang out in a café to construct his sketches, I feed off my observations in the field," he explains with a smile.

In addition to research, Stéphane Adam has developed other channels to relay his ideas, notably via the spin-off LYAGE, for Live Your Age, his own Fabrique des Possibles. " I sincerely believe that we can change the way we look at aging, just by changing the institutional system for the elderly. We are proposing changes to nursing homes in order to transform them into places of life, and by erasing this 'hospital' aspect that they have at the moment," he believes.

As an academic, he is primarily trying to get these messages across to his students. To this end, he has created an option in the psychology of aging, including several courses, which enriches the curriculum of students in the Faculty of Psychology, Logopedics and Educational Sciences. " This option is increasingly successful: understanding aging is also understanding how to make young people happier A way to close the loop.



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